EDF colonel: Attrition warfare sets in, even as Ukraine has slim advantage

Col. Tarmo Kundla.
Col. Tarmo Kundla. Source: ERR

The front-line in the Ukraine War has not shifted significantly over the past week, which, given the balance of forces, is to be expected, Colonel Tarmo Kundla, head of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) General Staff's ops department, says.

Attritional warfare continues, he adds.

Speaking at a Ministry of Defense press conference Friday, Col. Kundla said that since neither Russian nor Ukrainian armed forces have an advantage over each other, the situation is not favorable for major offensives from either side.

Over the past week, Russian forces have carried out an average of 30 to 40 assaults per day, though the initiative remains in the hands of the Ukrainians, Kundla said, adding they are organizing various attacks of their own: Raids across the Dnieper River near the city of Kherson, for instance, ambushes in northeastern Ukraine, and infantry assaults on Bakhmut.

These need to be well-planned, given the heavy cost of territorial gains of any size, he added. Casualties arrive mainly thanks to artillery and mines, with the character of the struggle, given both sides have dug in strongly, coming to resemble trench warfare, Kundla added.

"Defensive lines have to be re-captured, and this is a very, very tough task," Kundla said.

While the front-line mostly runs through comparatively densely-populated areas, troops on both sides have taken to sleeping inside buildings after sleeping in the field was revealed to lead to serious casualty rates

This also explains why attacks on civilian infrastructure have intensified, Kundla added.

The defensive lines are strongest along major highways, while larger settlements under Russian occupation have been turned into defense hubs, rendering them even more difficult to liberate, he added. 

Logistics bases have also been set up adjacent to transport and agricultural infrastructure; the occupying Russian forces have requisitioned hotels, schools private residences and other buildings, for accommodation purposes.

All of this has a familiar ring to it, at least to the historically aware.

"For the most part, the battles have been taking place in the same areas as they did during World War Two," he noted.

Kundla added that while Ukrainian forces have a slight initiative advantage at the moment, there is no immediate end in sight for the deadlock and the accompanying major counter-offensive.

The inter-relatedness of different sections of the lengthy front also plays a part.

"What happens in northeastern Ukraine can determine success or failure in the south, and vice versa," Kundla added.

Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine is now in its 534th day.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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