Expert on Ukraine situation: Nothing to celebrate just yet

Rainer Saks.
Rainer Saks. Source: ERR

According to security expert Rainer Saks, the Ukrainian forces' increased activity on the southern front is not yet the long-awaited counter-offensive. Saks said, that the next week could reveal whether Ukraine is able to start building on its initial progress in that area.

"There is almost nothing to celebrate yet. This is the beginning," said Saks chilled on ETV morning show "Terevisioon."

According to Saks, the Ukrainian advances up to now are not a disaster for Russia and the Russian army is still capable of acting in an organized way. However, Ukraine's main forces, which have been formed to liberate the occupied territory, have not yet entered the battlefield.

"It remains to be seen over the next week or so, whether Ukraine will start to build on its progress. We don't know whether this is a real strike or a diversionary maneuver to mislead Russia into concentrating its forces on the southern flank," Saks said.

Saks explained, that Ukraine is in an advantageous position in the south, as Russian forces have their backs to the Azov Sea and within range of Ukrainian artillery fire. According to Saks, this is the place, where Ukraine can cause the most problems for the Russian forces.

Announcements by Ukrainian forces on Monday' of the liberation of several villages are important for Ukraine, Saks said. However, he added, that in the bigger picture nothing has changed, pointing out that the Russians have been able to repel some of the attacks, though even from day one, they have not been 100 percent successful. Nevertheless, Ukraine was also not expecting to break through Russia's defenses immediately, Saks said.

Saks explained, that there is a serious defensive zone in the south, with the front line having remained the same there since the start of last summer. After Russia failed to move north, its forces stayed their to construct defensive fortifications.

However, in Saks' view, the fact that Ukraine has broken through quite extensively, shows that Russia has serious problems when it comes to the combat capabilities of its troops.

Saks went on to say, that it is not a case of Russian troops being ineffective or unable to fight, nor are the leadership problems in Russia so serious that they will have an immediate impact. However, the key factor in determining the outcome of the battle will be the soldiers' morale and motivation.

"They have a decent army, but there is no internal conviction about what they are fighting for and why they are there. The Ukrainians are morally, psychologically and mentally superior to them (in that sense)," Saks said, adding that there will be no signs of fatigue on the Ukrainian side because they are fighting for their lives and until they achieve a result.

In Saks' view, the blowing up of the Kakhovka dam was not crucial factor in determining the form or scope of Ukraine's counter-offensive. However, he added that it certainly disrupted the Ukrainian army's preparations as the civilian rescue and aid effort continues to demand a lot of resources.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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