Amid Russia’s daily brutality – torture, abductions, mass deportations, mock trials, the hijacking of the largest nuclear plant in Europe and the bombing of infrastructure – it is too soon to celebrate Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive. The liberation in recent days of thousands of citizens, recovery of more than 3,000 sq km of territory and obstruction of enemy logistics lines are not mean feats but more must be done to press home the advantage.
A full victory will require greater training for Ukraine’s forces, from the use of multiple-rocket-launching systems to better deployment of the nation’s fighter-jet capabilities. It will also require more kit. So far, supplies have been dismally slow to arrive and limited when they do. The promised US-backed lend-lease programme has yet to swing into action.
One area in which Ukraine already has an upper hand is military intelligence. As Euripides once wrote, “Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.” Intelligence-sharing by allies has proved crucial in co-ordinating military action and this high level of knowledge contrasts with the poor quality of information that the Kremlin’s decision-makers have to contend with. It has also revealed the emerging value of public-private partnerships. Satellite imagery, operational data, the gracious provision of Starlink capabilities, operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX – these are the sorts of intelligence that could ultimately make or break the war.
And then there are the troops. Russia’s armed forces have been widely criticised and morale is unlikely to improve, despite the expected arrival of new deployments from North Korea, Syria and the Urals. It’s hard to be an effective fighting force when you’re increasingly aware that justice isn’t on your side. That said, without a programme to train civilians, more equipment and continued international support, Ukraine will continue to struggle to turn the tide against their occupiers.
Lada Roslycky is the founder of Black Trident, a defence and security consulting group in Kyiv.