EDF Colonel: Ukraine's advantages in long-range artillery, drone strikes

Col. Mart Vendla.
Col. Mart Vendla. Source: ERR

Ukrainian forces have an advantage over their Russian opponents, when it comes to long-range artillery and precision strikes, thanks mainly due to good intelligence. This helps the Ukrainians deploy their assets better, according to Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), Colonel Mart Vendla.

Vendla notes that last week, Ukraine demonstrated its capabilities of carrying out long-range drone strikes on Russian naval vessels.

Appearing on Monday's edition of "Ukraina stuudio", Vendla said that: "The fact that Russia can't defend a landing ship [from strikes] 700km away is quite a telling fact. It means that its ability to protect its infrastructure along the Black Sea actually took a relatively big hit."

"When it comes to the drones that have been launched in the direction of Moscow, these are mostly of smaller weight, size and power. At the same time, they fulfills their purpose, and bring a sense of the front-line, home to Moscow- as well," he added.

These drones were most likely launched from Russian, and not Ukrainian, territory, he added, saying it is unclear who is behind them.

"In any case, the fact that explosions in Moscow have become an almost daily occurrence is certainly significant, and proves that Moscow's air defense coverage does not correspond to modern threats," Vendla went on.

On the front-line on the ground, however, Ukraine has not yet achieved any major breakthrough, Vendla went on. The front's diverse nature is hampering Ukrainian progress, he added.

"If we examine the front, 1,000km in length, it is relatively diverse. If we look in the direction of Kherson, its defense, from the enemy's point of view, is greatly helped by the [Dnipro] River, a big, wide river, making progress there difficult.

"If we look at the direction of Zaporizhzhia, then this is obviously the one place that will help the Ukrainians' strategic goal, ie. to retake the Crimean peninsula by cutting the connecting roads of the land as a conduit to that location."

"Meanwhile, if we look in the direction of the Donetsk oblast, there are several large cities here, making Bakhmut only a small town in this context. This means that a war in this direction, or the promotion of a major strike in this direction, would mean fighting from house to house, stairwell to stairwell. As for Luhansk, there are plenty of swamps and forests on that side, which makes defensive activities easier, from the point of view of the defenders," Vendla added.

He added that the Russian troops have also significantly strengthened the defense facilities since their withdrawal from Kherson. "If the rest of the regions have an average of 400 defense facilities per region, there were 1,400 of them in the direction of Zaporizhzhia. This indicates the scale of the depth of the defense structure. So, in this sense, the task that Ukraine has is extremely serious."

Among the Russian defensive emplacements are both large ditches and many minefields, Vendla continued, plus artillery positions and zones set aside for reserves, among other features.

Nonetheless, the Ukrainians have been making minor advances, he added.

"This is being done on a very broad scale, because Ukraine's goal is to spend and attract attention in different directions. But Russia is also trying to do the same, since it perceives the importance of the southerly direction has for Ukrainian strategy, meaning one can see some Russian activity taking place in the northern direction, in order to try to tie up Ukrainian forces there and prevent the creation of a reserve which might help with a Ukrainian breakthrough in the South," Vendla added.

Ukraine still has a certain advantage in long-range artillery and precision strikes, Vendla noted.

"It is important to mention that Ukraine can use all the tools available to it more effectively and more precisely than the Russians, since they have combat intelligence of a relatively good quality level, and through this they can maximize the impact of the forces. As a result, all these strikes in depth serve the same purpose and isolate a force on the battlefield from both ammunition and food, from this and that. This will definitely help the situation," the colonel said.

Vendla said that Ukraine can make further progress before winter sets in, but how far will depend on what Russia does next – and its steps are often unpredictable.

"But it is understandable that the 1,000km front line is not defended evenly; that is, Ukraine, on being able to discover gaps in the defensive line, getting better trained in small-unit tactics and having more accurate firing and better intelligence information – then they certainly have a chance."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael.

Source: 'Ukraina stuudio', interviewer Reimo Sildvee.

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