Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Despite Bravado, Russia Seen ‘weakened’ by Costs of Ukraine Campaign; What would a Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson look like?; Russian military relying on mercenary group with low standards in Ukraine; Ukrainian mayor shares cryptic post about deadly 'incident' at Russian-controlled plant, LIVE UPDATES and MORE

AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File
Despite bravado, Russia seen ‘weakened’ by costs of Ukraine campaign:
Russia has struggled to meet all of its top strategic goals in Ukraine, but the U.S. and its NATO allies may be on the verge of meeting one of theirs.
Estimates underscore the depth of damage to Russia’s military nearly five months into its invasion. The staggering number of casualties and the vehicles and equipment lost have left the Russian army severely degraded, even as it makes slow, grinding territorial gains in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
That doesn’t count the costs back home. Despite strong energy export revenue, the Russian economy may shrink by one-tenth this year, Russian banks, universities and sports teams are cut off from the international arena, and sanctions have led Western suppliers to cut off key commodities and Western retailers to shutter their Russian operations.
Crushing Moscow’s capacity to wage offensive war has been a central component of the West’s game plan since the early days of the conflict. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spelled out that strategy in April when he said flatly that NATO wants Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t launch another invasion in the foreseeable future.
Russians reacted furiously to Mr. Austin’s comment, and some Western observers felt he might have gone too far, but that was before the costs of the invasion came clearly into focus for the Kremlin.
Western officials aren’t celebrating, but they are zeroing in on the long-term damage to the Russian military machine each day the war drags on. Adm. Tony Radakin, the head of the British military, said over the weekend that Russia has sustained about 50,000 casualties and has lost roughly 1,700 tanks along with a significant number of other vehicles and equipment. --->READ MORE HERE
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What would a Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kherson look like?
One way or another, according to Ukraine’s leadership, it's bound to happen.
Even though the Battle of Donbas is far from over, Ukraine is expected to open the next chapter of the war sometime in the near future — a highly anticipated, major counter-offensive operation in the south, particularly to liberate the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.
Kyiv has declared its intentions to liberate the only regional capital captured by Russia following the Feb. 24 full-scale invasion.
Experts across the world agree that retaking Kherson is the most feasible way for Ukraine to score a major victory over Russia and turn the tide of the war. As part of a counter-offensive operation, Ukraine would likely seek to block the occupied city, cut the Russian garrison off from supplies and reinforcements, and hold the blockade until Russia surrenders.
This would be a daring mission, demanding the most effective contribution of all components ranging from infantry to air defense and counter-battery activity.
Thanks to local terrain and Russian military flaws, Ukraine's plan may in fact be realistic.
But in order to carry it out, Ukraine's military would have to demonstrate excellent coordination of war power and do the difficult work of clearing the area of Russian forces, supply lines, and ammunition depots — before going in.
Rush to the south
Ukraine lost Kherson as early as March 2, amid little armed resistance, as Ukraine’s defenses in the south quickly collapsed to Russia’s heavy blitz.
Now, after over 140 days of war, Russia claims Kherson Oblast is “full-fledged Russian territory,” and is threatening to stage a “referendum," thereby annexing yet another Ukrainian region like it did with Crimea in 2014.
According to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, President Volodymyr Zelensky has already charged the military with a mission to establish a plan to de-occupy Ukraine’s south, as its seaside regions are vital to the national economy.
Ukraine has already launched campaigns in Kherson Oblast as a counterweight to Russia’s large-scale offensive in Donbas. As a result, Ukraine has liberated a total of 44 villages and towns, according to Ukraine’s local military-civilian administration in Kherson Oblast. --->READ MORE HERE
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