Critical Summer in the Ukraine and Russia War

The Russian-Ukraine has mainly become a war of attrition. The questions for such a war are which side has more endurance and can either side make breakthroughs that accelerate the collapse of the opponent.

Russia and Ukraine will both attempt knockout blows and major offensives in this Spring and Summer. If there is no knockout or major shift then they will settle in for another winter attrition campaign.

There are a lot of trenches and fortifications and minefields all over Ukraine now. Both sides have sufficiently effective air defenses to mostly neutralize the air war. Both sides have lost a lot of their best soldiers and equipment. These conditions mean it is very difficult to breakthrough the lines. This was the case for seven years both sides were stalemated in the smaller-scale war from 2014 to early 2022.

Ukraine success would be to take the Zaporizhia Oblast and then the Kherson Oblast. They cut off a lot of supplies to Crimea and then they take Crimea. Russia would keep fighting from Russia territory into Ukraine. Ukraine would need to have three times the success they had late last year to pull this off.

Russia needs to assemble and equip more forces and start advancing across its front. Russia needs to degrade Ukraine’s ground air defenses and air power so that Russia can make its air power effective. Moscow’s plan calls for expanding the Armed Forces by an additional 350,000 troops, set up three new motor rifle divisions and reorganising the current seven motorizsd rifle brigades into divisions, tripling them in size. “It is assessed that these and other reforms would increase the number of military personnel, armament, and combat equipment units in the Western Military District by 30 to 50 percent,” the Lithuanian intelligence report reads. These changes are only possible in the long term, in five to ten years, even though Russia aims to carry out the reform by 2026. Russia increased the official war spending by 30 percent last year. In 2023, the cost is estimated to reach five trillion rubles (66 billion euros); in fact, with all secret allocations the cost of war is assessed to be much higher.”

The problem with either side making sudden advances is that the layers of defensive lines and minefields means that a push that took weeks or months to build up might only get 5 to ten miles before defenders regroup at the next line. Last fall Ukraine broke through three Russian lines that will not well prepared. Now there has been six months for both sides to build more fall back defense lines and minefields.

This summer will show if major advances and territorial gains are still possible.

Russia is ready to continue the war in Ukraine for another two years, Lithuania’s military intelligence chief. After two years, Russia’s supplies of old tanks and other things will run down. However, both Russia and Ukraine will be de

22 thoughts on “Critical Summer in the Ukraine and Russia War”

  1. The so-called fortifications that the Russians have been digging for a last ditch (pun unintentional) defense of Crimea are interesting. They have an amazing ditch digging tool that can dig something like half a mile an hour.

    Finding troops to fill all those trenches is the first problem. The next is that they will be waiting in an open grave. These trenches run right across open, flat land, with no cover. No trees, no rocks, no buildings, nada. They will be shelled, rocketed, missiled(?), droned, and bombed into ineffectiveness and, when the Ukrainian tanks finally do come, they will have bulldozer blades on the front and just fill in the trenches as they pass, leaving nothing but arms and legs protruding from the dirt in places–the same thing that happened to so many of Saddam Hussein’s forces that tried to prevent Kuwait from being retaken.

    There is a price for not learning from history such that, when you are Russia, history really can repeat itself.

  2. Russia will leave Kherson when Ukraine advances South to the Black Sea,exactly as they left the capital of Kherson,earlier this year, supply lines cut, get out.
    Why are we denying them ATACMS,cluster munitions, more Abrams,and F-16’s?
    It’s like I voted for Biden and got Trump.
    Even with this pitiful level of support from the West,Ukraine will decimate Russian forces,I say the offensive will not be in Spring,but July fourth or later.

  3. Frankly, we need to push for a permanent ceasefire. This is not going anywhere, and may lead to an escalation, perhaps nuclear.

    • You can be sure Putin would never go nuclear. A ceasefire will occur when every Russian has left Ukraine,no talks until then, and a precondition for talks should be handing over of war criminals and posting of $5 trillion in escrow for damages.

  4. Russia, as we know it, will collapse. Whether Putin’s removal is due to this, or is the final contributing cause of this, remains to be seen.

    Barring that, there is simply no way a very large number of untrained recruits with inadequate everything, can long advance against a modern army equipped with modern weapons. The only method to realize even temporary gains is by World War Z tactics (but it’s looking like it is too late for that, especially as they wasted so much time and treasure on a zerg rush).

    People keep pointing to WW II as representative of how many losses Russia can sustain. But that was a very different type or war (defensive, among other things). A better gauge would be WW I. Where the army collapsed and just dissolved backwards, even as the government fell into chaos.

    Losses then were about 2 million, but the Russian population was larger, younger, and the technological gap between them and their foes was considerably smaller. Nor was there social media, or smart phones, and, frankly, the civilians, especially peasants, were a lot more accepting of privation because they had never known much better.

    Russian can lose by 1) being driven from the battlefield, 2) taking too many casualties to hold together (and they are probably well over half way on that part), 3) by Putin dying or being removed (and even without cancer or whatever, look at his age, his demographics, and try to imagine the incredible man-killing stress he must be under constantly–even when, granted, it is not further impacted by any feelings of guilt or contrition), or 4) the economy collapsing completely and the empire fragmenting into smaller autonomous states.

    These are all things that, like the fall of the Berlin Wall, may seem far in the future . . . until one morning you wake up and discover the wall fell in the night. When the end comes, it will come very quickly.

    Russia is playing a game that, for them, is already in sudden death overtime — where as their opponent is not.

    • WW1 and WW2 were fought by the Soviet Union,which was vastly larger than Russia. Accurate article, I’d also point out the disgraceful lack of support from Europe and US,but I’d imagine Ukraine will push to the Black Sea coast, and perhaps take Crimea, the Donbas and Luhansk may take another year.
      Slava Ukraine.

  5. One winter and stories about Ukraine winnings or superiority of NATO weapons on media drop more than tenfold. Ukrainan army is living meal by meal while Russian army still has huge reserves in both manpower and economics What to expect in one or two more winters? Ukr attempt to copy Vietnam strategy (trade blood for time and wait for anti war movement getting momentum) is a disaster. The main reason is Vietnam fertility rate at that time was around 5.0 to 6.0 while Ukr fertility rate today is far below 1.5.

    • What fantasy is this?

      “Ukrainan army is living meal by meal while Russian army still has huge reserves in both manpower and economics”

      Or this?

      “Ukr attempt to copy Vietnam strategy . . . is a disaster.”

      I am a post-Viet Nam war US veteran who served as a war planner and was, at another point in my life, a professor teaching courses on, among other things, national defense policy. I don’t see any signs of Ukraine copying overall Viet Nam war strategy. Putin, on the other hand, may be trying to gut it out until other countries give up, but he doesn’t have fifteen years to do it in and, worse for him, he is not getting stronger while he waits. Even if you can point to some tactics the Ukrainians may be using that were also used in Viet Nam, they are likely used in many wars, and one tactic, or even several, does not a grand strategy make.


      “The main reason is Vietnam fertility rate at that time was around 5.0 to 6.0 while Ukr fertility rate today is far below 1.5.”

      I’ve never tried to verify it but I’ve heard it said that North Vietnam was the only country even known to have its birthrate go up during a major war. Yet that is most emphatically not the cause for its ‘win.’

      The US military in that war had both hands tied behind their backs, in addition to not targeting farms and infrastructure, Congress and the President imposed some absolutely inane rules and restrictions on the conduct of the war. President Johnson would look at a map every morning to figure out what the military should bomb that day. High bomber losses were traced to them being forced to file freaking flight plans and flying exactly the same routes and altitudes every day. And then there was the whole “graduated escalation” thing which was just a way of saying: “give the opponent time to get used to things before hitting them harder so that they never feel hopeless or demoralized or lose things they badly need to stay in the war.”

      Finally, the South Vietnamese government was many bad things, among them, inept. They still didn’t fall until two years after the US government finished pulling out in 1973, a process that Nixon had started four years earlier, in 1969.

      This Ukraine war won’t continue long enough for birth rate to make a huge difference, but Russia’s demographic crisis was already one of the worst in the world and it just got a lot worse in the past year. So claiming that comparing birth rates between the two is of any significance is, frankly, mystifying. In fact, one of Putin’s reasons for starting this war may have been to bolster his own falling population numbers by adding Ukraine’s.

  6. Why does Russia need to continue advancing? Their plan of destroying the AFU from range is working very well. Ukraine keeps pouring men and machines into the meat-grinder and Russia is more than happy to blow them up.

  7. Russia has lost anyway. It’s only a question how much worse will it get. Drive your T55s down the main street of Lviv, and Russia has still lost.

    Economy is shattered.
    Europe will never buy your gas.
    No one will be scared of your military anymore.
    No one will buy your weapons.
    Russians won’t have any more babies.
    China is not giving material aid. It only sees Russia (Sorry, The Northern Resource Area) as another belt and road bitch.

  8. Ukraine needs to ramp up the use of drones in anti-personnel roles. Flying hand grenades, essentially. Because they need to be able to cause attrition of Russian troops behind the front line without suffering similar attrition themselves, but also relatively cheaply.

    While Ukraine potentially has deeper reserves of munitions due to resupply from the West, Western governments are going to try to cheap it, and frankly the West’s capacity to manufacture replacement munitions is turning out to be less than impressive. Thus the ability to turn plentiful hobby drones into weapons that can take Russian lives without exposing Ukrainian soldiers to return fire is crucial.

    Russia probably has larger reserves of personnel, the Russian ‘federation’s (Empire, really, we’re NOT talking a federation of equals here.) population is about 3-4 times larger than Ukraine’s. And the West isn’t going to supply Ukraine with bodies. So it’s pretty critical for Ukraine to maintain a favorable kill ratio. Anti-personnel drones appear to be their best bet.

    • Ukraine is suffering a 7:1 loss against Russia. Since the start of the war at least 10 million Ukrainians have left the country and are probably not coming back. There are countless videos of Ukrainian recruiters kidnapping old men and boys off the streets to and feed the meat-grinders. I recently saw a tragic video of a 16 year old Ukrainian boy who committed suicide, shortly after his father had been sent to the front and was killed.

  9. It’s more about the big picture.
    What do we want eastern Europe and the UN and the security council to look like in 2 or 5 or 20 years?
    Russia as a country and culture is ill and is but a blight upon EurAsia. Their endless espionage and cyberwarfare and antagonizing their neighbors is keeping the world back. Their insistence on having their fingers in every issue and continent and political drama; constantly one-upping (attempting) others rather than being confident in their own path speaks volumes of their system of values. Their poor treatment of their citizens and their citizens’ low productivity and rejection of order is a culture in decline. If they kept this to themselves and internalized their issues, that would be something.
    One could argue that many countries engage in these activities, but Russia’s seems particularly petty and malevolent, like a bored, angry, violent teenager looking for kicks – no real goals, just chaos – a bully and a malcontent.
    So, the point is that Ukraine is the latest mark. Though there is some history here – a consumption of Ukraine would incentivize Russia to further empty glories and pointless bloody adventures. Just a kid picking the wings off flies as he finds them. Many have argued that Russians find worth in their past glories and by comparing themselves with others constantly – fragile as glass when they can’t lord over others.
    A good fence makes good neighbors. Ukraine needs to be that fence – a barrier to let Russia fix itself before trying to pursue shallow worth through conquest and assimilation.
    The problem is how much effort will the greater world put into this and why have they not done before now. Russia using tactical nukes on non-NATO countries is an outside chance. Cutting off fuels has gone and passed. Would Russia step up its game if 1000 NATO tanks and motorized artillery showed up in Kiev? What other reason?

    • Removing the Security Council as a special privileged group is a start – it just breeds unhealthy confrontation and influence-seeking – the UN was useful in its uselessness as an all-equal forum for non-essential and immovable issues.

      Pouring good equipment in to Ukraine – far-reaching, high-tech, high accuracy, international-remote systems would be a good step. Agreed that NATO frontline personnel can’t be within Ukraine or the Black Sea.

      • Yes, US needs to leave the UN,or at least ,not give them a penny, and charge them a billion a year for rent, then start a new organization, without Russia ,China ,Iran,or N Korea,pariah states.

  10. It will be harder to make some successful counteroffensive, because the line is less thin now, troops are more concentrated. From logistical standpoint is is harder now for Ukraine, because Kherson is separated by river. If they make gains towards Crimea, the logistic routes would be harder to pull off. We will see if extra tanks and training in more mobile warfare will produce success. Ukraine needs to have some troops pinned down at northern border, which is very long.

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