Interesting article about the "forever war" has an interesting analysis of the state of the RU military:
“Russia simply does not have the offensive capabilities for a major offensive,” said US military expert Rob Lee.
According to Lee, less than 10% of the Russian army in Ukraine is capable of offensive operations, with the majority of its troops now conscripts with limited training.
“Their forces can slowly achieve a few grinding attritional victories but do not have the capacity to punch through Ukrainian defensive lines in a way that would change the course of the war.”
Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/ ... ion-stalls
I wonder if their defensive capabilities are any better. We will know soon hopefully.
They've continued to lose experienced personnel, but they've mobilized more than they have lost - they have a larger number, but of lesser trained soldiers involved than they did at the time of the Kherson counteroffensive. Ukraine had difficulty making advances in Kherson, although they did ultimately prevail because they were able to very effectively interdict Russia's supply lines across the Dnipro River.
Rob Lee has also periodically pointed out that poorly trained soldiers tend to have more value on defense than offense (example: Link to the middle of a relevant thread of several posts
). We've already seen this with Ukraine's defense of Bakhmut, reportedly primarily with reservists. Russia's failures do not mean they will be as ineffective in defense as they are in offense.
Russia's winter campaign could hardly have gone worse. There is little doubt it is culminating, and that Ukraine will soon have the opportunity to take the initiative, including with some (not as much as they should have at this time) new equipment and newly trained troops available.
But I still think is difficult to predict how the upcoming counteroffensive campaign will go, because it is a new phase in the conflict with challenges distinct from each of the previous phases. I don't think opportunities analogous to the Kharkiv counteroffensive currently exist along the Russian lines because with more troops and shorter lines, they are stretched as thinly. And the geographical challenge of the Dnipro River that hindered Russia's defense during the Kherson counteroffensive is also absent.
I do still have strong hope Ukraine has enough well-trained and equipped forces in reserve to both create and exploit a significant breakthrough somewhere along the front. I even dare to hope they are able to conduct smaller advances in multiple other locations simultaneously.
But we can't count those eggs before they're hatched.
As for the time frame, Ukraine is currently right in the middle of the normal spring period of "roadlessness" (bezdorizhzhia), and this normally continues into April and in some areas into May. Although it looks like precipitation remains significant into June, as the thaw completes, days lengthen, and plant growth gets into gear, the water cycle accelerates. Someone put together a very interesting thread on this here:https://twitter.com/davidhelms570/statu ... 6419598336
I'm not going to rule out Ukraine defying expectations and figuring out ways to defeat General Mud, but my general expectation is we're going to see a relatively static period for the next month or so. As indicated in the linked thread, timing is likely to in part be affected by location - soil strength could be favorable in the south within a few weeks, but it might not be comparable in the northeast until June.