Expert: Ukraine has opted for attrition tactics

Rainer Saks.
Rainer Saks. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Ukraine is trying to minimize human losses, which is why they will stick to defensive positions for another few weeks, trying to destroy Russian units and supply chains, security expert Rainer Saks said.

"Ukrainian front-line troops are the dearest part of their army. I believe that Ukraine will stick to defensive tactics for the next week or two and continue to take out Russian units. It has largely worked for them so far. Ukraine is attempting counteroffensives in some areas to improve its positions," Saks said on the "Vikerhommik" morning show on Monday.

He added that the Russian leadership sees the situation on the front lines in a more flattering light than it is.

"Time will tell whether Russia will manage to boost the intensity of its attacks. They have been unable to launch a massive offensive so far as Ukraine has nipped attempts in the bud, destroying Russian logistics and supply channels. Should this remain the case, the Russian leadership is looking at a reality check soon."

Saks said that Ukraine is doing increasingly well in the war, while that does not mean they have the strength to reclaim lost territories.

"There are a lot of 'ifs' so to speak. Ukrainians are not immune to making mistakes. And they have made some, though not in anything major. But should Russia find itself incapable of an offensive and forced to resort to mobilization, international diplomacy will become increasingly important, which is one area where Ukraine needs help."

Sinking the missile cruiser a one-off victory

Saks said that sinking the Russian missile cruiser Moskva is the greatest single victory Ukraine has had in the war.

"It also marks a turn on the southern front, allowing Ukraine to improve its positions. And it is a major loss for Russia, both militarily and psychologically. Imagine a situation where you have just sworn in your new armed forces commander and have to acknowledge a painful loss a few days later. It has an effect on operational command and coordination."

Talking about Mariupol, the expert said the city is symbolic for the war.

"The Ukrainian troops still in the city are there by choice. They had several chances to get out. They have stayed on principle and are keeping Russian forces engaged. It will be difficult to reclaim Mariupol should it fall, while it will buy Russia little other than symbolic value. Claims that it will allow them to better supply the Donbas region aren't strictly accurate," Saks found.

The "incapacity for work" of Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the death and replacement of many of its generals also speak in Ukraine's favor, Saks found.

"Every correction you have to make in war constitutes a negative development as it means something has been done wrong."

The hosts also asked about the effects of Finland and Sweden joining NATO for Estonia. Saks said that the countries' accession should not be seen as Finland and Sweden stepping in to protect Estonia.

"What will they gain? What they cannot get outside of NATO is nuclear deterrence from USA. It renders their defense more effective. Collective defense does not mean building an alternative system for Finland and Sweden. Broadly speaking, they will need to keep their independent defensive capacity. The aspect that matters to Estonia is the Baltic Sea becoming a NATO sea. Russia will have a much harder time operating here and denying Estonia links to the rest of the world. I hope that countries will be able to develop a joint air defense capacity and do away with the need to move these units into the area from elsewhere.

"It is better to stay silent if you don't have a plan"

Talking about the French presidential election and its effects on the war in Ukraine, Saks said that even if Marine Le Pen should win, it is one thing to accent one's political stance before elections, while it is another making decisions once in office.

"One's rhetoric inevitably changes after they take over running France. Some things would change in case of a Le Pen victory. But Russia has visited such merciless war crimes on Ukraine's civilian population that it would be very difficult to ignore. Even if Le Pen wanted a different partnership with Russia, I do not see any way for her to get one."

Saks described Emmanuel Macron's position as extremely precarious.

"Had he succeeded in showing himself to be an effective mediator, it would have given him credit. But he has not, and his recent statements suggest he is confused, which is not a good look. It is best to stay silent if one lacks a plan."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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