Kiev’s forces have launched a large-scale counteroffensive in the country’s northeast and have retaken thousands of kilometers of Russian-occupied land in the past few days, according to CNBC.
Close followers of the Kremlin claim that the president Vladimir Putin are likely currently considering their options.
“The Kremlin’s military story line is breaking,” Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, said in comments Monday.
“If this continues, Putin will be forced to announce a mobilization – likely a partial one; in any case, it would be a costly domestic move for the Russian president, both politically and socially, forcing him to declare war with Ukraine and tacitly admit that Russia is facing military problems,” he wrote.
Russia insists on calling its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation”, not a war.
“Not only that, but it makes Russia’s determination to inflict Grozny-style ‘punishment’ on Ukrainians even more intense, both by causing a series of mass casualties in Ukraine through more frequent attacks on urban centers and, in the worst case scenario, by using chemical or even tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield and sowing general panic.” , – added I. Bremmer. – If there are any changes in the Russian war in the near future, it will be an escalatory, non-negotiated breakthrough.”
Ukraine’s battlefield victories in recent days and its ability to recapture dozens of towns and villages in the Kharkiv region put Russia at a huge disadvantage. Now it is trying its best to defend its territory in Donetsk and Luhansk, where the two pro-Russian “republics” are located.
It is widely believed that the Ukrainian counterattack in the northeast of the country was a surprise to the outnumbered Russian troops. There were indications that the Russian forces hastily retreated, leaving their equipment and ammunition reserves behind.
Prior to these counterattacks in the northeast, Kyiv had been vocal about a counterattack in the south of Ukraine, prompting Russia to redeploy its troops there.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s goals in Ukraine remained the same — to “liberate” Donbass — and insisted the fighting would continue.
But there are rumblings of discontent in Russia, with even staunch Kremlin supporters voicing doubts about the war in public forums, including on state television.
“We were told everything was going according to plan. Does anyone really think there was a plan to leave six months ago [miestą] Balaklia, repel a counterattack in the Kharkiv region and fail in an attempt to capture Kharkiv?” Viktoras Olevičius, a political expert with usually pro-Putin views, said on the state-run NTV channel, Moscow Times reported.
Another public figure, former lawmaker Boris Nadezhdin, said that Russia may not win the war if it continues to fight as it has so far, stressing that one of two options: “either mobilization and full-scale war, or retreat.” .
Analysts at global risk consultancy Teneo said in e-mailed comments late Monday that the military losses and humiliation of Russian forces “pose risks to President Vladimir Putin’s regime as domestic criticism of the so-called special military operation comes from all sides.”
“Therefore, Putin is under increasing pressure to respond to increasingly unfavorable dynamics on the frontline, which could include either escalating actions or calls for ceasefire negotiations,” they added.
The Putin regime now faces a difficult choice, the war has dragged on and the morale of its undersupplied forces is likely to wane as pressure from Ukraine’s well-organized and well-armed military is evident.
“I think Moscow faces a clear choice: suffer a humiliating defeat in Ukraine, which seems inevitable given the current deployment of military forces, supply chains and the escalation of hostilities on the Ukrainian side, or plead for peace,” said a senior executive at BlueBay Asset Management in a statement on Monday. developing countries strategist Timothy Ash. “Or escalate global mobilization and the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), or perhaps Syria-style indiscriminate razing of Ukrainian cities.”
According to T. Ash, V. Putin probably refused the option of general mobilization, which for Russia would mean military readiness and a large-scale conscription of new citizens of the country.
“There is a risk that they will come home in body bags and that will fuel social and political unrest inside Russia,” he said, adding that Putin was unlikely to resort to unconventional weapons such as WMD.
“Putin had his chance, but he didn’t ‘pull the trigger’ because he understands that these are only deterrents, and when he unleashes them, it will be a whole new game for all of us, the risk of World War III and an unmanageable chain of events in which he will be clearly seen as the aggressor / will go crazy and lose most of his friends abroad, including China and elsewhere,” added T. Ash.
According to him, after possible intense airstrikes in Ukraine, Putin may try to start “serious” peace talks. “But he will have to hurry, because the ground is shaking under his feet in Ukraine, and maybe even in Moscow,” noted T. Ash.
“At this stage, a total collapse of Russian forces throughout Ukraine is quite possible, including those territories that were under control until February 24, including Crimea, and there is even talk of a possible split in Moscow and threats to V. Putin’s survival in power.” Watch this space,” he said.
Kherson is extremely important
At the time, defense analyst Michael Clarke told Sky News that the Ukrainians were advancing about 20 kilometers a day, following standard military principles.
According to the former director-general of the Royal Joint Services Institute, when the Russians invaded, for the last five months they were happy if they advanced one kilometer a day.
“They follow the standard military principle of two in the front, one in the back.” These are two units in front and one behind them. The Ukrainians definitely have another division they could send to this battle, but they are holding it back. One division is in Kherson, another in Kharkiv, and one more is waiting,” he said.
The most important thing, according to Mr. Clarke, is that Ukrainians can choose what to do next.
“The Russians don’t have much to choose from at the moment because they are very tense and it will take time for them to get reinforcements,” the defense analyst said.
He said there were unconfirmed reports of local ceasefires or local surrenders in Kherson, especially in the north, as the Russians ran out of ammunition and other critical supplies after several attacks on bridges that Russian logistics have to cross to secure supplies.
Mr Clarke said: “The Russians are clearly under pressure and may or may not break in the way they did in Donbas. However, the Russian troops in Kherson are generally better prepared. So if it really breaks in that area, it can be very important.”
According to him, from a strategic point of view, Kherson is a much more important place. Kherson is the only large city that the Russians have occupied. It controls access to Crimea, as well as part of the hydroelectric power supplied to Crimea.
“If the Ukrainians manage to recover the entire coast of the Kherson region, then the whole of Crimea will be in the crosshairs of their artillery and missiles. They could make it impossible for the Russians to operate militarily in Crimea,” the analyst said.
In Mr Clarke’s view, the most likely outcome will be a shaky ceasefire next year, which could now be concluded on more favorable terms than Ukrainians might have thought a week ago.
“In my opinion, in the second half of winter, the Ukrainians may have a chance to expel the Russians from all the territories they have occupied since February of this year. And that would be a huge victory,” he added.
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