While the initiative may remain in Kyiv's hands, Ukraine's forces currently lack the strength and resources to decisively turn fortunes in the current war at present, Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Colonel Janno Märk says.
Speaking to ETV show "Ukraina stuudio" Sunday, Märk, who is deputy chief of staff for operations, noted that Russian forces also lack the strength to turn the course of events.
At the same time, according to him, the Russian forces do not have the strength for this either.
No decisive breakthrough has taken place on any of the front lines, and progress has been very cautious and slow, in all directions, Märk added.
There are a total of three more important directions in relation to the war and the front, Märk said. Ukrainian forces are launching attacks in the direction of Bakhmut and the Orikhiv-Melitopol axis, while Russian forces are concentrating in the direction of Svatove and Kreminna, Luhansk oblast, and Kup'yans'k, Kharkiv oblast.
The Ukrainians have managed to make a breakthrough in respect of the foremost defensive structures in the direction of Robotyne, Zaporizhzhia oblast.
Part of the reason for the overall slow progress, Märk said, lies in Ukraine's reliance in this region on infantry and particularly on small-scale tactical units.
"In the entire Southern Front zone, Russian Federation troops have been erecting fortifications since the end of last year. This constitutes a massive defense line, with minefields dozens of kilometers – sometimes even over 50 kilometers – in depth, field fortifications, defensive lines. Both the obstacles and the minefields are covered, with direct fire from ground units, indirect artillery fire, and also air support," Märk continued.
"At the same time, Ukrainian units are lacking in some very important components of combined arms type of capabilities: For example, air support and certain indirect fire capabilities, and there are shortages in terms of ammunition too. Hence the use of small infantry unit to pick away at these defensive lines. In the given conditions, this is a more, or the most, optimal, economical solution from a Ukrainian perspective, and consequently progress is also very slow," the colonel added.
Ukraine has set itself an interim goal of reaching Tokmak, Zaporizhzhia oblast, on the southern front. According to Märk, moving with small units in this way, again, will be time-consuming. Ukraine's longer-range goal is to liberate Crimea, but we are unlikely to see this year the breakthrough to the Black Sea needed as a precondition for this – given the Russian land corridor in occupied Ukraine and along its Black Sea coast, east of the Crimean peninsula.
The Bakhmut front has not moved over the past week, Märk added; Ukrainian personnel are trying to isolate the city from both the North and from the South, while the Russian forces in control of the city itself are conducting local counter-attacks on a daily basis.
"The Bakhmut front is not fundamentally different from other fronts. Every day, the Russian Federation forces carry out localized counter-attacks, moving forward with rather robust, rudimentary tactics, so the losses are very high on the Russian side. But so far, it seems that this mobilization of 'volunteers,' which Russia carried out has certainly made up for these battlefield losses or patched up the holes, at least to a great extent," Märk said.
Märk admitted that, currently, neither side holds the cards in terms of decisive power and resources to decisively change the course of the war.
"I certainly won't predict how things will go exactly, as war is such a complex thing; there are so many unknown factors that can come into play and very unexpectedly cause the course of the war to move in one direction or another, but at present it seems that the Ukrainians will rather continue in this step-by -step further movement, while a large-scale breakthrough is not foreseeable in the coming months," Märk added.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: "Ukraina stuudio", presenter Reimo Sildvee.