As early as July 1, President Zelensky called
on the military to show some major results before the NATO summit. But three days later, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov announced
on his Twitter a change in strategy – shifting from “pushing back [the Russian army]” to “wearing them down” through shelling.
The Ukrainian army had been continuously bombarding Russian targets before, with particular success against the deep rear with the new British Shadow Storm missiles and at closer distances with HIMARS. After Danilov’s statement, which now looks like a half-concealed announcement that the offensive had ended, nothing new happened in the next 10 days and there was no “intensification.”
The failure of the offensive was clear as early as three weeks before Danilov’s comments. In fact, it was limited to “reconnaissance by fire” with a few columns of armored vehicles in about ten places. The biggest success, as mentioned above, was the Vremievsky salient. However, neither tactically nor strategically has this given the Ukrainian army anything yet.
The successes of the Ukrainian army around Bakhmut – where they managed to drive Russian troops away from Chasiv Yar, the next city to the west, and stop the Russian army from continuing advancing in the Donbas – cannot be considered a broad offensive. This was a separate operation, however, in no way connected with the situation either on the Zaporizhzhia front or in the Kreminna area.
The contrast is striking between the talked-up massive blow against Russian troops, for which the Ukrainian army so ardently demanded tanks and armored vehicles from the West, and the more than modest results. (See an earlier article
by Nikolai Mitrokhin in Russia.Post on the reasons for this discrepancy.)
Importantly, after the first obvious serious losses, the Ukrainian command did not keep throwing in thousands of soldiers to break through the Russian defenses, ignoring the costs, while Ukrainian society did not begin to demand decisive action from the government and the command. Thus, the Ukrainians basically decided to call off the offensive, satisfied with official reports that “the offensive is underway, but slowly, with the lives of our soldiers being preserved.”Might Ukrainian society reevaluate the prospects for the war?
Now, especially after the NATO summit, where Ukraine, contrary to some expectations, was not invited to join the alliance, a more sober outlook has emerged in Ukrainian society toward the prospects for the liberation of the occupied territories.
Earlier, there were confident expectations
of a decisive breakthrough at the front and at least the advance of the Ukrainian army to the (Crimean) Isthmus of Perekop, while some even expected its swift liberation. But now these expectations no longer seem realistic, at least in the foreseeable future.
A recent publication
on Zaxid.net, the mouthpiece of the influential Lviv intelligentsia, is telling. It looks at the possibility of Ukraine’s temporary renunciation of Crimea, just as the Bonn Republic (as West Germany, whose capital was Bonn, was often called) renounced its claims to East German territories for the sake of joining NATO.
The article expresses the hope that the Ukrainian army will still be able to liberate the south of the country to the Crimean isthmus and then “move east,” though the Donbas is not mentioned at all. From a military point of view, however, the liberation of the occupied Donbas agglomeration is a much more difficult task and requires many more sacrifices than the liberation of Crimea.