Ukraine has revealed very little about how it intends to go about reclaiming its Russian-occupied territories.
It’s fair game. “Plans love silence,” recalls a recent Ukrainian video showing armed, masked soldiers holding a finger to their lips.
Ukraine’s future hangs in the balance. Kyiv must show NATO and the West that it can end the nearly year-long military stalemate and break through Russian lines to resume least part of its territory annexed by Putin.
Everything indicates that the Ukrainian offensive has begun. Even if the military analysts who have access to spy satellites and intercepted communications are waiting to decide to have a more precise idea of the situation.
And the Ukrainian counter-offensive is not limited to conventional military operations. Kyiv is also waging an information war. Russian television and radio broadcasts have been pirated. In one such broadcast, a Putin impersonator said that Ukrainian forces had invaded three Russian regions bordering the border.
Listen to Normand Lester’s chronicle via QUB radio :
Weak points of Russian defenses
On the eastern front, Ukrainian forces advanced around Bakhmut, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said, describing the town as the “epicenter of hostilities”.
For his part, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group, Prigozhin, mocked the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement that the Ukrainian advance had been rebuffed, calling it “cruelly absurd science fiction”.
In the Donetsk region, a Russian military blogger wrote that hour by hour the news is more and more alarming, claiming that the Ukrainian armed forces are much better organized and coordinated than in the past. A pro-Russian official from the self-proclaimed Republic of Donetsk, even warning that “the enemy managed to put us in a difficult position”.
In the south, analysts believe Ukrainian military leaders are aiming to reach the Sea of Azov coast and thereby cut off the land corridor that Russia has established to the Crimean peninsula, which the Kremlin illegally annexed in 2014.
The Ukrainians made gains in Zaporizhzhia province where a major dam and hydroelectric power station were badly damaged by an explosion that submerged areas near the front lines. Both sides ordered the evacuation of tens of thousands of civilians. Ukraine accuses the Russians of blowing up the dam while the Kremlin claims ‘Ukrainian sabotage’ caused the damage to the structure that caused the flooding.
As for the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said there was “no immediate risk”, but warned belligerents not to compromise its safety.
Either way, as Justin Trudeau said yesterday, it’s “another example of the horrific consequences of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”