Defense League colonel: Ukrainians need extra troops at breakthrough points

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

The Ukrainian infantry, which has broken through Russia's defensive line, urgently needs additional troops to continue its offensive, said Col. Eero Rebo, Chief of the General Staff of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit).

According to Col. Rebo, the most important events on the frontline continue to be taking place in the Zaporizhzhia region. "The Ukrainians are continuing their offensive. The so-called Surovikin line has been breached, which is good news. The bad news is that they have broken through mainly with infantry and so the Ukrainians are working to increase that breakthrough and then create the conditions for it to continue," Rebo said.

Rebo said that the fiercest battles are now happening in the region of Verbove and Novopokrovka.

"The continuation of the Ukrainians' success will depend on how quickly they can bring in additional reserves and forces," Rebo said.

According to Rebo, the Russian forces are trying to counter-attack and thereby draw the Ukrainian forces away from Zaporizhzhia, which at the moment involves diverting them to the Kremlin's Lyman direction. "However, there, the aggressor has not had any success and the Ukrainians have been able to ward off all their attempts to break through for several months now," he said.

Rebo said that in terms of morale, it is important what is happening at Bakhmut, where the Ukrainians have had some territorial success.

"They are holding the settlements south of Bakhmut in a semi-encirclement, which is likely to give them a significant tactical advantage in terms of inflicting casualties on the enemy. It will also create tensions on the Russian side and the need to bring in additional reserves from the Russian side there too, and therefore, in the bigger picture, support the Ukrainians' actions in Zaporizhzhia and in the offensive," Rebo said.

Speaking about the use of drones and missiles in the war, Rebo said the Ukrainians were are targeting military objects to help them up the pressure on Russia's logistics system.

"The Russian side is trying to do more or less the same thing, but in addition they have also launched a series of terrorist attacks. Every time the Ukrainians have made progress somewhere, we have seen these kinds of terrorist attacks," he said.

Rebo also pointed out that from the Ukrainians' point of view, such terrorist attacks tend to boost their fighting spirit. However, Russia bombing a market using various tactical missile systems is not likely to increase support for Putin or the war he has initiated among the population.

According to Rebo, Russia has also been seen to be bringing increasing numbers of reserves to the Zaporizhzhia front.

"The successful drone attacks by the Ukrainians have increased the need for various defensive protection measures, which in turn means any long-term strategic preparations for new troops cannot go according to plan. In the longer term, we are likely to continue to see that Putin's army, so to speak, will be replaced with soldiers coming to the front, who are less prepared and have been pushed through the system faster and faster," Rebo said.

Rebo said that while Russia has held a number of military training exercises recently, the major exercise, "Zapad 23," is likely to be cancelled.

"If we look at the various exercises that have taken place in Belarus today, they are basically on a very small scale and have not created a credible deterrent. Nor are they likely to have provided the necessary political capital for the Lukashenko regime to continue. They are therefore within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). There were five exercises, but they were significantly smaller than expected," Rebo said.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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