Two months after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia assures that their goal is total control of the eastern region of Donbasas well as the south of the country.
However, it is still unclear what military resources Moscow will deploy in this “second phase” of its campaign in Ukraine and What are your medium and long-term goals?
Russia seems to have learned some lessons in terms of objectives and tactics from the difficulties it faced in the first weeks of the war, when its army fought against an enemy it had clearly underestimated.
Currently, the Russian forces are present in a 200-250 km corridor within Ukrainefrom the Sea of Azov to the outskirts of Kharkov, but they do not have full control of the area.
In March, the Russian military announced that would focus its efforts on the Donetsk and Lugansk regionsin Donbas, where pro-Russian separatists have been active since 2014.
Remains of civilian victims in the city of Mariupol. Reuters Photo
On Friday, Russian Major General Rustam Minnekaev said that “one of the tasks of the Russian army is to establish full control of Donbas and southern Ukraine”, adding that this would give them “a land corridor to Crimea”, the peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
But this goal has challenges, according to Michel Goya, a former colonel in the French army.
“The more Russian forces penetrate Ukrainian territory, the more vulnerable they are,” says Michel Goya on Twitter.
Pascal Ausseur, director of the FMES institute for strategic studies, the Russian military might want to establish an axis from Kherson, on the banks of the Dnieper River, to the city of Dnipro in the north, and then to Izyum in the east.
Death in a residential neighborhood in Kharkov, Ukraine. AP Photo
Experts rule out that Russia intends to take kyiv, which seemed to be an initial goal of his campaign.
Difficulties facing the Russian army in March forced it to change tactics to contain losses of soldiers and equipment.
“They realized that the ‘blitzkrieg’ (blitzkrieg) option did not work,” Ausseur said. “So they went back to the traditional model of the Soviet steamroller: If you cannot bend the will of your enemies, you crush them.”
“They are going to ‘Mariupolize’ the operation,” Ausseur anticipated, referring to the southern port of Mariupol, which has been under intense Russian bombardment for the past two months and whose inevitable fall has been delayed by little Ukrainian resistance.
“It seems that the Russian military is simply looking for a scorched-earth strategy, trying to break the will of the Ukrainian military by using overwhelming force and indiscriminate shelling to force civilians to flee,” said Colin Clarke, a researcher at the Soufan Center think tank.
Some experts believe that the Russian army will try to catch the Ukrainian forces as they move east of the Dnieper River.
To avoid being encircled, the Ukrainians could spread out on several fronts, Clarke noted, to stretch Russian supply lines.tion and communication. “That strategy has been successful so far,” he said.
Western aid has grown in recent days, especially with the announcement of an $800 million US military assistance package aimed at the fighting in Donbas.
But the armored vehicles will take “weeks or months” to reach the Ukrainian military, according to Mark Cancion of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Even if the vehicles come out of stock already in Europe, they will still need some revisions before they are ready for shipment,” he said.
NATO countries have begun to supply Ukraine with s300 anti-aircraft missile systems, but according to Ausseur, their shipment also takes time.
Meanwhile, France indicated that it would send Ukraine anti-tank weapons Milan and Caesar cannons.
But experts say kyiv still lacks other advanced weapons like Howitzer cannons.
Ukraine needs to establish a “steel dome” to defend against an air attack, according to Ausseur.
“They need a shield that makes the equation less favorable for the Russians,” he explained, adding that “otherwiseRussia could carry out air strikes for years.”
Few observers think the conflict will end soon. “The scenario that emerges it’s one of heavy bombing for several weeks or even months,” Ausseur anticipated.
Alexander Khramchikhin of the Institute for Military and Political Analysis in Moscow said the fighting could go on for years.
“Russia has not achieved any of its goals and it is not easy to see how it will achieve them in the future,” he told AFP.