Expert: Russia wants a breather to prepare for major offensive

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

Russia is looking for a breather in its war in Ukraine and is trying to pressure the West into stopping Ukraine arms aid so it could mobilize for a major offensive, security analyst Rainer Saks said on the "Välisilm" foreign policy program.

Saks suggested that Russia is trying to escalate the war to a point where Ukraine would be forced to negotiate. "It is the main thing today that despite Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, mainly power and heating, Ukraine still holds the initiative," the expert said.

Leveling Ukrainian infrastructure is hardly a new tactic for Russia and something they have been doing since the full-scale invasion started. "They need to disrupt it not only because they want Ukraine to freeze, but to lower its ability to fight. Russia has not given up on taking control of Ukraine," Saks added.

The analyst suggested that Ukraine has the upper hand in terms of reserve units.

"Ukraine has an advantage that was created around the third week of the war, when Russia failed to declare a mobilization, while Ukraine did and set about forming reserves. Ukraine held back its reserves even when things were looking dire in Donbas and Kharkiv, opting to properly train them instead. Experienced fighters were sent to the front sooner, while new units that we have been seeing since the second half of summer are only now having an effect on the course of the war."

"Ukraine now has a lead of at least six, maybe seven months in this regard. But Ukraine is dependent on Western arms, while Russia can make more for itself, even though not quickly enough. That is why they need a break in the fighting, to mobilize for a new offensive. I think Russia could keep defending for quite some time," he added.

Russian leaders have in recent days suggested that Ukraine is preparing to use a so-called dirty bomb. Saks believes this is first and foremost an information operation to influence the Western powers.

"I think their aim is to convince the West to cease weapons aid for a spell, sow doubt, confusion and spark debate over what's going on. This would provide them with a breather or a break, also so Russia could reclaim the diplomatic initiative."


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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