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Expert: Front line unchanged but Ukraine's achievements notable

Rainer Saks.
Rainer Saks. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Although Ukraine's counter-offensive has not lived up to expectations, according to security expert Rainer Saks, there have been some notable achievements by the Ukrainian forces. The most important of which has been pushing Russia's Black Sea Fleet back towards the eastern shore of the Black Sea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also admitted that the country's counter-offensive has not gone as hoped. Security expert Rainer Saks acknowledged that there has been no visible movement of Ukrainian troops, however, there has been progress in some areas.

"And that's a little trap that Ukraine itself fell into. They ran a very skillful media campaign in February-March-April, creating the expectation that there would be a major counter-offensive, but now the front line is essentially in the same place. These are small, incremental advances," Saks said.

"However, they have still made some progress. In particular, they have been able to push Russia's Black Sea fleet closer to the eastern shore of the Black Sea, which has actually given Ukraine a lot of leeway. The Black Sea Fleet is certainly important, especially for air strikes. And, what Ukraine has also achieved is that grain is now being exported from Ukrainian ports, which is a difficult thing to imagine happening without the repulsion of this fleet. It's not up to the level of grain exports that existed in peacetime, but it is working, and that is certainly a great achievement for Ukraine," he added.

According to Saks, Ukraine failed to push the Russian air force back far enough, which is one of the main reasons why the counter-offensive has been seen as a disappointment.

"Ukraine hoped they would succeed in inflicting such heavy losses on the Russian army that it would be forced to retreat. And now, in hindsight, the explanation being given is that air superiority was not achieved. Russia is not using aircraft to attack Ukrainian cities at the moment because it is too dangerous, as Russia has lost a lot of aircraft in the war and does not want to lose any more. However, in order to advance, the opponent's air force has to be pushed further away. Ukraine could not do that with the weapons they had. This is seen as one of the most serious reasons," explained Saks.

In his view, there have also been minor tactical lapses on Ukraine's part. Nevertheless, one of the main problems has been that Kyiv did not receive as many supplies as quickly as it had hoped.

"We could see that Ukraine was preparing a drone campaign against Russia, which was partly successful, but Ukraine has not been able to carry out a large-scale drone attack. Either they have not been able to build them in such large numbers, or they have not been able to carry out these attacks for other reasons. So there have been a number of setbacks," he said.

"And it could also be said that last summer they failed to take advantage of moments when the Russian army suffered a really big defeat and was forced to retreat afterwards, as we saw, several times. It should have been at that moment that these supplies were actually been sent to Ukraine. Perhaps the effect then would have been a bit greater. But you can't break Russia with a campaign lasting just a few months, it's clear that more force is needed," Saks added.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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