Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Lt. Gen. Martin Herem said that Ukraine has enough ammunition to defend currently held territory but needs more to continue the counteroffensive. Herem said on the "Ukraina stuudio" program that killings and torture continues in occupied territories once battles seem to be over.
Asked whether the liberation of Ukraine would continue at the recent pace, the EDF commander said recent progress had more to do with Russian troops' poor level of defense. "Their defense collapsed and Ukraine knew to take advantage," he said.
"The Ukrainians are looking for new ins on the Kupiansk-Izium heading, weakening Russia as best they can. There may be progress if they find what they are looking for, while I cannot say whether that's likely. It is the same on the Kherson vector. There is back and forth, but we'll have to see how much longer the Russians have there. It could be weeks, while it could also come crashing down for them in a few days," Herem said.
He said that Russian forces will not have the strength to push for a long time. "If the numbers were more or less equal in the beginning, Ukraine has more troops than Russia by now. Russia has double the tanks and four times the number of mobile artillery pieces, which are keeping them where they are now."
The terrain could become muddier in the second half of October, making it difficult to move off road. "This will also have an effect for the Ukrainians who, I believe, will continue their push when the weather gets colder. As long as they have long-range munitions they can keep throwing at their enemy's artillery," Herem suggested.
There is enough for now but the rate at which it is being used is great. Herem said that while the EDF could use €100 million worth of munitions a day, the Ukrainian defenders can expend that amount in a matter of hours.
"They're fine today when it comes to defense, but an offensive requires a terrible amount of ammunition," he said.
Herem added that while there is continued support for Ukraine, countries are also forced to address domestic concerns that require spending.
"We may believe that battles subside and everything seems calm, but killings and torture continue in occupied territories, as evidenced by new mass graves with people's hands tied behind their backs. All manner of resistance adds to the Russians' brutality, so the sooner Ukraine liberates its territories, the better," Herem said.
The general said it is difficult to speculate where the next breakthrough could happen. "I believe there are two important factors now: the Russians' weakness and artillery capacity. If Ukrainians can concentrate their efforts and accurate fire, they can break through. But this would require Russia to miscalculate first. There are a lot of potential places, while Ukraine wants to avoid taking desperate steps as those would result in major losses."
Editor: Marcus Turovski