Defense League colonel: Parity of forces behind slow Ukrainian progress

Col. Eero Rebo.
Col. Eero Rebo. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

One of the main reasons behind the modest progress of Ukraine's counter-offensive against occupying Russian forces has been rough parity between the forces involved, one high-ranking Estonian military officer says.

Appearing on ETV show "Ukraine stuudio" Monday, Chief of the General Staff of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit), Col. Eero Rebo, said: "That rapid success has not been forthcoming is also completely understandable, since if we paint with a very broad brush, we could say that there are comparable forces on the field."

"If we take a look at artillery or some other aspects, one country has the upper hand in one area, another, in other matters."

Ukrainian forces are trying to break through the frontline at several points at once, Rebo said.

"This is a must for them because Russia has – again, the balance of power is one to one – sufficient reserves to shut it down in the event of just one breakthrough attempt," he continued.

"By breaking through in many places, they would disperse the Russian forces and be able to push through their forces, because the initiative would in their hands … They would then probe for that weak point, until they are able to find it. Only at that point can we talk about an offensive phase, which we will refer to as the breakthrough, followed by the the rapid success everyone is awaiting, developing from that point."

Rebo: Actions in Ukraine demonstrate the discipline and adaptability of Kyiv's soldiers

Col. Rebo visited Ukraine himself in the spring, in order to observe, based on Ukraine's experience, what Estonia should adopt and what it should avoid, in the course of its military training.

The discipline and situational awareness of the Ukrainian military left a good impression on Rebo, who visited locations close to the front line

"We (Col. Jaanus Ainsalu and Staff Sgt. Ott Sepp accompanied Rebo on the visit-ed.) went there some time ago. What we saw were infantrymen who had made it through the winter and were heading for the spring. The discipline, combat readiness and situational awareness of this unit made a very good impression on us," Rebo said.

Ukrainian counteroffensive preparatory activities have been ongoing for a few months and have been relatively successful, Rebo added, while the current stage with the counteroffensive demonstrates the movement of larger troop units. 

At the same time, Rebo said, counterattacks by Russian troops against the Ukrainian troops that have advanced so far, as well as Russia's own actual offensive attempt in the direction of Kreminna, Luhansk oblast, can also be observed.

Ukrainian authorities have conceded that the pace of the counteroffensive has not proceeded at the desired speed.

The long-lasting struggle for Bakhmut, Donetsk oblast, has become a symbol in itself, Rebo added, as the Russian armed forces have and the regime as a whole have much riding on it.

"In the eyes of the ordinary Russian observer, Wagner is the one who took Bakhmut away, but if the armed forces give it away, it is an obvious loss of prestige," Rebo said.

"This is exactly the button that the Ukrainians are pushing today, and they are not only drawing a significant number of Russian troops to that point, but we must also say that quality is being sapped, because on this front it is increasingly difficult for Putin's regime to field good quality, combat-ready units," the colonel went on.

Rebo noted that while this conflict has become one largely of an artillery duel, Ukraine still requires sufficient infantry to take territory cleared by its own guns.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: "Ukraina stuudio", interviewer Andres Kuusk.

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