For Moscow, bad news follows and resembles each other. kyiv forces have made “quick and powerful” advances in the Kherson region of southwestern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday. Maps presented the same day by the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed a sharp retreat of Putin’s troops in a large number of localities, in particular in Dudtchany, on the western bank of the Dnieper river. A new blow for Russia after the loss, Sunday, of the strategic city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, only two days after its annexation by the Kremlin.
“The balance of power which was very favorable to the Russians at the start of the war has rebalanced in favor of the Ukrainians, notes General Jérôme Pellistrandi, editor-in-chief of the National Defense Review. Today the Ukrainian army has truly become an operational and effective force capable of imposing itself on the battlefield.” For the Kremlin, the situation is becoming critical: three weeks earlier, its forces had already lost control of the city of Izium and many territories in the Kharkiv region. “Our military does not stop. It is only a matter of time before we drive the occupier out of all of our lands,” Volodymyr Zelensky prophesied on Tuesday.
“Hardened by more than seven months of conflict”
“The general mobilization which was decreed by Ukraine from the start of the war allows it today to have a large number of soldiers trained and hardened by more than seven months of conflict, points out General Dominique Trinquand, expert soldier and former head of the French mission to the UN Conversely, the Russians only decreed a partial and belated mobilization, and do not have time to properly train their troops before sending them to the battlefield.”
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A lack of trained men which is felt strongly on the ground. Especially since Moscow has already recorded heavy losses among its professional soldiers: according to an estimate by the British Ministry of Defense dated September, more than 80,000 Russian soldiers would have been put out of action (dead, wounded or captured ) since the beginning of the conflict. A colossal figure compared to some 150,000 to 200,000 men deployed last February.
At the same time, arms deliveries by the West enabled kyiv to fill part of its material deficit compared to the vast Russian stocks. “Ukrainian artillery no longer has to blush in front of Russian artillery, considers General Trinquand. Russia certainly still has more guns, but it uses them more rigidly and is therefore not as effective.”
And the trend should continue. At the end of September, the United States announced a new tranche of long-term aid including, among other things, the delivery of 18 Himars multiple rocket launchers in the process of being manufactured. An order that will more than double the number of these precision artillery systems possessed by kyiv, from 16 to 34. For its part, Paris is also working on the delivery of 6 to 12 additional Caesar guns, which would be added to the 18 already sent to Ukraine in recent months. “kyiv’s forces continue to grow in power while conversely the Russian army continues to deplete its stocks and has lost much of its potential since the start of the conflict”, summarizes General Trinquand.
At the same time, the recent territorial gains made by the Ukrainian army, particularly in Izium, have enabled it to get its hands on a lot of Russian equipment. “In a rather paradoxical way, the first supplier of armaments to Ukraine today is the Russian army, which abandons a lot of equipment, notes General Pellistrandi. So that Ukraine can then use them or have them repaired , when necessary, through dedicated supply chains.” A phenomenon that is only getting stronger as Ukraine regains ground.
Not enough to improve the morale of Russian troops, unlike Ukrainian forces galvanized by their recent successes. Shortly before Lyman’s fall, a senior pro-Russian separatist official admitted that his troops were fighting “at the end of their tether”. Faced with these multiple disappointments, some of the regime’s most fervent supporters have even seemed to lose patience in recent days. Thus Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who on Saturday criticized “nepotism in the army” and called on Moscow to use “low-power nuclear weapons” to turn the tide on the front. An “emotional” reaction quickly swept the Kremlin…
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