‘War of attrition’ between Russia and Ukraine has begun, EU official says

The “war of attrition” began in Ukraine, as Russian forces make a surge using heavy artillery bombardment in the south and east of the country alongside deep strikes further west in Ukraine in a bid to disrupt logistical supply lines used by the West. Predicting when the Russian offensive will end is very complicated, a European official told reporters in Washington on Thursday.

In the long term, the objective of Russian President Vladimir Putin is to capture the widest Donbas region, where Ukrainians and Russians have been fighting since 2014, as well as the land bridge connecting mainland Ukraine with Russian-occupied Crimea. However, Russian forces – pushing from the east, south and northern area of ​​Izium, eastern Ukraine, while using heavy artillery bombardment – have still not done much progress on the ground, said the European official.

The remaining part of Donbass that the Russians are trying to secure has complex terrain with rivers and substantial-sized urban areas. If successful in securing and overtaking the southern region of Kherson, the Russians could push towards the port city of Odessa further west. But that is unlikely as it would require a complex amphibious operation, and Russia also does not have enough troops in place to expand on the southern coast, the official said. If logistical access for supplies is not secure, troop morale will plummet, the official also stressed.

Russia has also carried out deep strikes from beyond the line of contact to target supply lines and Western military aid flowing into Ukraine, carrying out heavy bombardments of storage facilities, bridges and railway tracks, as well as missile strikes on power plants in the western city of Lviv on Tuesday.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday of Russia’s most recent airstrikes, “We’re still evaluating how well they hit what they were aiming for. They’re not good for people.” precision strikes. They don’t discriminate in how they target.”

“The Russians haven’t made the kind of progress in Donbass and in the south that we think they wanted to make. We think they’re behind the times,” Kirby said. “It’s been slow, and at every turn they’ve met strong Ukrainian resistance. What we’re focused on is making sure that resistance stays as strong as possible.”

Morale, agility and intelligence are other factors that could affect the length of the war, the European official said.

It is difficult to assess the number of Russian casualties, but the European official suggested that Russia suffered heavy losses during the war, with between 10,000 and 20,000 Russian soldiers killed so far, as well as thirty 30 000 injured. Ukraine has not released an official balance sheet of its forces, although President Volodymyr Zelensky said in mid-April that 3,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed since the start of the Russian invasion. Ukrainian officials did not respond to a request from CBS for their latest figures.

The European official also noted that it is difficult to predict the state of mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin, stressing that while he can stop his invasion of Ukraine at any time, he has so far showed no willingness to end his campaign. Meanwhile, the Ukrainians have shown their determination to defend every mile of their territory. And as the war drags on, Russia will feel the economic effects of the sanctions, which will likely have practical consequences for Putin’s ambition.

The Ukrainians, who receive a continuous supply of Western security aid, are agile in terms of military movement, compared to the heavy and less mobile Russian army, which makes it easier for the Ukrainians to target them according to this European manager. It remains difficult to assess whether Russia receives military or security assistance from its allies, including China.

Ukraine was able to kill a number of high profile Russian generals who had to move to the front lines deeper in the country in an attempt to thwart their forces’ failure to advance. Intelligence from the United States and other countries has helped Ukraine achieve this, but it also has its own intelligence network within its population to generate HUMINT (human intelligence) to effectively inform their military operations. , said the European official.

A National Security Council official told CBS News on Thursday, “The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help Ukrainians defend their country. We do not provide intelligence with the intention of killing Russian generals.

The United States believes that Russia will attempt to forcibly annex the newly occupied Kherson region, as well as the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk in the “coming weeks or months”, the government said this week. US Ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter.

Carpenter told State Department reporters on Monday, “We think the Kremlin might try to hold mock referendums, to try to add a veneer of democratic or electoral legitimacy” in those areas.

Russia is already transitioning local schools to using the Russian curriculum, forcing civilians to use the ruble as currency, renaming towns and shutting down internet and cellphone transmission in those areas, a also said Carpenter.

David Martin and Olivia Gazis contributed to this report.

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