Maj. Gen. Kiili: Ukrainian forces' progress to be steady

Maj. Gen. Meelis Kiili.
Maj. Gen. Meelis Kiili. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

In a situation like that currently on the ground in Ukraine, where the enemy has been preparing for defending against a counter-offensive for nine months and has sowed whole mine-fields as part of this, it cannot be expected that the Ukrainian troops will make significant breakthroughs immediately, so the speed of their advance needs to be anticipated in this light, Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit) senior officer Major General Meelis Kiili says.

The pressure on Ukraine coming from the Western countries for success in a counteroffensive and the rapid advance of its troops has been great, but the Ukrainians are dealing with it well and their troops have in fact acted wisely and moved forward at the expected speed, Maj. Gen. Kiili, who was himself recently, in Ukraine, went on.

Speaking to ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" Monday, Kiili said: "We must not create the false expectations that we will go on an offensive where wedges will be rapidly driven into the depths [of the Russian defensive lines], thus liberating territory. There has been nine months of preparations [by the Russians]. Minefields, the volume of mines there is so great that it will take the next 30 years until a normal life could be led in those zones. Ukraine's progress has thus been as expected," he continued.

"They have been smart and have gained the technological upper hand. They don't want to lose people, so close quarter combat is not the preferred option, but rater ranged strikes, precision strikes and cluster ammo, which can give an advantage."

The US announced last week that it would provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, which have been banned by more than 100 countries. According to Kiili, cluster munitions have also been developed over the years, and modern cluster munitions are high-tech ammunition. Many Western countries, including US allies in NATO, criticized the decision to provide cluster munitions.

"It's an understandable emotion. But every munition develops. What the US gives Ukraine is high-tech munitions. It can be used to deliver precise shots... after a certain time it will be deactivated, such a mechanism is inside," Kiili said.

According to Kiili, there is currently a situation on the front line where the Ukrainian troops have an advantage when looking at the operational directions: they can now choose the direction of the attack, and they also have the advantage of shorter communication lines.

Russian airborne forces, for long touted as an elite – as they are by other nations – are a key part of the occupation of Ukraine, Kiili added. "The Russians probably have 10,000 to 15,000 highly motivated, well-trained troops forming up their airborne forces. They have to shift these to those points where the direction of attack might come. Naturally, intelligence and counterintelligence are at work, and we may see the main part of the Ukrainian forces starting to move."

"At the same time, it must be taken into consideration that Russian forces are no longer in the same shape as they were at the beginning of the invasion, while the occupying forces have also learned a lot in these 500-plus days since the war started. They, too, are learning and improving, something the Ukrainian frontline soldiers have also noted," Kiili concluded.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

Source: 'Ukraina stuudio', interviewer Johannes Tralla.

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