EDF intelligence chief: Window closing for off-road maneuvers in Ukraine
According to Chief of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) intelligence center Colonel Margo Grosberg, the window of opportunity for moving heavy equipment across the ground in Ukraine is about to close, with long-range attacks expected to be the main focus over the coming months.
According to Grosberg, there have been major changes on the front line over the course of the last few weeks and months, particularly in Kherson. "In other areas, in the direction of Kharkiv and Donetsk, the front is as static as in previous weeks," Grosberg said at a Ministry of Defense press conference on Friday.
The colonel added, that the window of opportunity, after which the terrain will no longer be suitable for carrying heavy equipment, is now closing. While equipment using tracks and conveyor systems will still be able to make minor maneuvers for a few more weeks, all wheeled equipment can now only move along major roads.
"It's likely that in the next week or two things will stabilize in the same way more or less everywhere, and it will be difficult to make major off-road maneuvers," Grosberg said. This means, that in the coming months, long-range fire attacks will be the main mode of combat available to both sides.
"If we speak about the Kherson area, the front line has really changed there. Russian units are trying to move in an organized way across the Dnieper River, to reach the left bank," Grosberg said. He explained, that there are currently around 10,000 to 12,000 troops there, and it is difficult to move them across the river.
"Basically, the Nova Kahhovka dam is the only place where you can cross while keeping dry feet," Grosberg said, adding that according to estimates, it will take a minimum of 10 to 12 days to transfer the troops across.
Russia's decision to announce details about its troop movements publicly is, in Grosberg's view, nothing more than theater and aimed purely at placating its domestic audience.
"In military terms, giving it away is very difficult, and in order to explain it to the Russian society and to avoid the chaos that happened after the Kharkiv operation, when the front collapsed. That's why such a theatrical performance was put on," he explained.
According to Grosberg, doing so removes the potential for those such as Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin, who have publicly criticized Chief of the General Staff, General Gerasimov and Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu on previous occasions.
"The decision to withdraw was taken weeks ago, and it is extremely difficult to supply troops through this one strip of dry land. The attack on the Kerch bridge further exacerbated the situation and at some point the Russian units would probably have collapsed under their own weight due to logistical supply problems," Grosberg said.
However, Grosberg believes, that to some extent this situation is likely to suit both sides.
"As far as Mr Prigozhin and his private military company Wagner, which as you know, is against the law in the Russian Federation, are concerned, they are more or less the only ones that have made any progress in the Bahmut region. (Their progress) is only measurable in meters, but it is the only are where Russian units have advanced," Grosberg said.
Grosberg says, that this has probably also given Prigozhin more courage to criticize the defense minister and chief of the general staff. "We cannot rule out (the possibility) that Prigozhin, with his very high-profile and successful record on the military front, is preparing to declare interest in becoming the future defense minister," Grosberg said.
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Editor: Michael Cole