It seems that the much awaited ukrainian counteroffensive has started. Since
yesterday a number of waves with ukrainian units has attacked the russian
positions south and southwest of Orikhiv. The fighting has been very hard but
the ukrainian forces has made only minor gains and according to my russian
sources there seems to have been heavy casualities on both sides, but especially
on the ukrainian side. The russian MoD will probably claim several thousand
killed ukrainians and 50-100 destroyed ukrainian combat vehicles later today.
After several unsuccessfull assaults yesterday with limited artillery support
the UkrAF spent a couple of hours long massive artillery barrage on the russian
forward positions before resuming attacks during the night but to no avail. For
the time being no attacks are ongoing, but large ukrainian formations are in
position for resumed attacks. The attacks will probably resume in a couple of
I believe the ukrainian side is disappointed with the lack of progress. They
must break through not only the first russian defenceline but a large number of
defencelines behind the first one. To achieve success the ukrainian side cannot
spend many days with huge losses to break through each defenceline.
The coming three or four days might be some of the most important days in 2023
when it comes to the war. If UkrAF doesn't succeed in breaking through the
russian defences and suffer massive casualities during the attempts the summer
offensive will be shortlived and a failure. If on the other side ukrainian
forces do break through they have to take on the next defenceline and it's
starting over again. The only way Ukraine can achieve a significant success is
if the russian forces collapse under pressure from the attacks and panic
spreads. But that doesn't seem likely at the moment.
Ukraine must get a significant success during the offensive to make it worth the
costs. A failure will change the perception of the RuAF both in the West but
also in the rest of the world. The likelihood of a ukrainian military victory
will disappear. Pressure both within the western countries, but also from the
west towards Ukraine, will increase on negotiations to solve the conflict. On
the other hand a victoriousl Russia might want to go for a military victory
instead of negotiations and use a ukrainian defeat for an major offensive.
For the time going I'm inclined to believe that the most likely outcome is a
ukrainian defeat. They have no surprise or numerical superiotity and faces an
enemy with superiority in artillery and air power who awaits them in well
prepared fortifications. It looks a lot like the battle of Kursk in 1943. When
the Third Reich throw all their reserves in an offensive against well prepared
Soviet defences and used up all of their carefully gathered reserves during a
couple of weeks, without any major success.
Map from Rybar.