EDF chief: Weather and troop rotations behind battlefield lull in Ukraine

Col. Margo Grosberg.
Col. Margo Grosberg. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Lt. Col. Margo Grosberg said, that the reason for a reduction in the level of fighting on the ground in Ukraine is down to the current weather conditions and Russia's rotation of troops. In Grosberg's view, a resumption of more intense combat ought to be expected from early April-

Russian offensive activity has decreased significantly in the past week, Colonel Grosberg said during his weekly Friday Ministry of Defense briefing. While in the early winter and even at the start of this year, Russian units were launching 90-100 offensives a day, in the last week that number has dropped to 20-30, and has mainly been carried out by Wagner units around Bakhmut.

According to Grosberg, the two main reasons for the slight lull in proceedings are Russia's moves to replace units of troops, and the weather conditions, which are unsuitable for the use of heavy combat equipment.

"To keep up the momentum, Wagner used recruits from prisons, most of whom have now served their six-month term and so have been released from service. However, Wagner has not been able to recruit new fighters," Grosberg said.

Grosberg also pointed out that the Wagner units south of Bakhmut are now being replaced with units from the Russian armed forces being sent to those positions instead.

The second important factor influencing events on the ground at the moment, is the weather, which is creating a situation, where the ground cannot support heavy equipment.

"The mud has reached its worst point - all the equipment, which turns offroad is sinking (into the mud), and the trenches are also full of water. Last week it was already much warmer during the day, and then it rained - this means that the soil is no longer holding and it is difficult to conduct active combat operations," Grosberg explained.

While in the steppes the ground can be expected to dry out in a week or two, in the northeast of Ukraine, where there is a lot of forest and marshland, it dries more slowly.

"The slowdown is largely due to the current weather conditions. We are likely to see more activity in early April, when the period where the roads are degraded is coming to an end. That's when more activity will start from both sides," Grosberg stressed.

Russia's new recruitment drive reveals longer term war plans

Looking at the course the war is likely to take in the longer-term, Grosberg said, that it is significant that 1 Russia will launch a new recruitment campaign from April 1, which is due to be led by former president and deputy head of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev.

"It shows that this is a very high priority event. The aim is to recruit 400,000 active troops over the course of the year, most of whom will be sent to Ukraine, but some will also be deployed to units on Russian territory," Grosberg explained.

As is usually the case in Russia, the number of men they intend to recruit has been made aware to the general public, with a particular effort being made to attract people to actively sign up for service due to the private financial incentives on offer, Grosberg said. For example, while the average monthly salary in Russia is around €700, recruits are offered €2,500, plus municipal and state allowances if their contracts are more than a year in length.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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