According to Estonian experts, the intensified fighting in Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Belgorod is not the long-awaited major Ukrainian counter- offensive, but part of a preparatory phase. However, a video of a captured Russian brigade commander who opened fire on a Wagner convoy provides a useful insight into the situation in Russia.
On Monday, Russia's defense ministry released a video purportedly showing Russian forces repelling a Ukrainian attack featuring six mechanized and two tank battalions on several fronts in the Donetsk Oblast. The reports have not been confirmed by Ukraine.
Colonel Eero Rebo, head of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), said that what we are seeing currently is not a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
"They are most likely to be reconnaissance and preparatory actions. If we want to take something as a point of reference, this big strategic offensive could be comparable [in terms of size] to our Song Festival, which includes 35,000 performers and 60,000 spectators. In the case of Ukraine, we are talking about the great ambition of a great country to reach the sea. Consequently, they must have a force and a power of that same magnitude behind them," Rebo said.
Vladimir Juškin, head of the Baltic Center for Russian Studies, said, that the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, a gold-medal graduate of the Ukrainian National Defense Academy, must mount a victorious offensive in order to meet the expectations of both the Ukrainians and the West. According to Juškin, the weather conditions favor an operation that would go on until September, while the forces available to Ukraine with which to mount an offensive also have to be carefully considered.
"Zaluzhnyi, the gold medalist, has to calculate - if I have to attack the Russian army with such intensity, then I will have the resources to do so for two months and three weeks. Let's start counting back two months from September. So, that's mid-July and then he has to make a move," Juškin said.
Meanwhile, founder of the Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin released a video of the interrogation of Lt Col Roman Venevitin, commander of Russia's 72nd Brigade. Venevitin was detained after allegedly opening fire on a Wagner convoy while under the influence of alcohol. In Juškin's view, Prigozhin's confrontation with the Russia's regular army was actually in Putin's interests.
"Prigozhin is shifting the burden of responsibility for [Russia's] near defeat in the operation from Putin to the generals. This is Prigozhin's main task," Juškin said.
The attacks by Russian volunteers from the Liberty of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) in Belgorod, where, most recently, they showed videos of captured Russian border guards, also play an important role. Rebo and Juškin both agreed, that by taking military action, the volunteers have forced the Russian command to create more reserves and also diverted attention ahead of the long-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Editor: Michael Cole