On October 24, 2023, members of Ukraine’s newly formed “Siberian Battalion” trained on the outskirts of Kiev. (Genya Savilov/AFP via Getty Images)
[The Epoch Times, November 06, 2023]In the past month, the war in the Middle East has attracted more people’s attention, and the brutal Russia-Ukraine war seems to have been ignored. The Ukrainian army continued to counterattack, and the Russian army also assembled heavy troops to launch a large-scale offensive in the east, trying to regain the initiative on the battlefield. However, after suffering heavy losses, it has not yet achieved its goal. As winter approaches, trench warfare conditions on both sides become harsh, but the Ukrainian president denies that the war has reached a “stalemate” and neither Russia nor Ukraine has the will to negotiate.
Russia and Ukraine both deny war ‘stalemate’
Recent media reports claim that U.S. and European officials are “quietly” discussing the prospects of peace negotiations with Ukrainian officials, as Ukraine admits that the war has reached a “stalemate.” On November 4, Ukrainian President Zelensky stated that the war had not reached a “stalemate.” He also said he could prove there was no pressure from Europe or the United States to discuss peace talks.
The report may be related to a recent article “Modern Positional Warfare and How to Win” by General Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Army. The article stated that the war was gradually turning into a positional form, but did not say that the war had reached a “stalemate.” The article believes that the Russian army suffered heavy losses, and Ukraine obtained a large number of various Western weapons; Russia failed to make full use of its human resources due to political, organizational and motivation problems.
What General Zaluzhny really wants to say is that the war has been going up and down for more than a year. The Russian army has been greatly weakened. The Ukrainian army is getting stronger and has been able to form a balance of power with the Russian army. The article stated that positional warfare is beneficial to Russia because it can prolong the war and allow Russia to gain advantages in certain areas; in order to avoid World War I-style “trench warfare”, it should turn to mobile warfare as soon as possible, and Ukraine needs Western support. Strong support also requires changes in technology and at all levels.
This article may have been misunderstood, believing that the Russia-Ukraine war has reached a “stalemate”, which may also be related to the fact that Ukraine’s counterattack is not progressing as expected. Ukrainian President Zelensky said that the safety of military personnel must be given priority. This is a reasonable explanation for the slow progress of the counterattack. The recent large-scale offensive by the Russian army has resulted in serious losses, which should be a strong counter-evidence that Ukraine made the right decision by not taking the risk of investing in a large-scale armored assault.
Coincidentally, on November 2, the Kremlin spokesperson also disagreed with characterizing the current war as a “stalemate”, saying that the war “has not yet reached a dead end” and the Russian army is still continuing its offensive. The media believes that there is no sign that Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to negotiate with Ukraine.
The press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China on October 30 also seemed to confirm this. Ukrainian reporter asked: The third meeting on the Ukrainian peace plan was held in Malta last weekend. Representatives from 66 countries and international organizations attended the meeting, but China did not attend. Does this mean that China refuses to actively participate in seeking to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine?
Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Communist Party of China, said: China will continue to promote peace talks in its own way and promote a political solution to the crisis.
The Chinese Communist Party also does not believe that there is a possibility of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine now, at least it has not received similar information from Moscow. Regardless of “stalemate” or sudden change, the CCP hopes that the Russia-Ukraine war will continue and the war in the Middle East will expand to contain the United States and its allies to the greatest extent.
Russia’s recent counteroffensive shows synchronicity with Hamas’s attacks. Hamas has also openly encouraged the CCP to start a war in the Taiwan Strait. However, the CCP has only made political actions. The civil strife in the CCP army has not yet subsided, and they may be powerless at this time.
Are Russian troops coordinating actions with Hamas?
On October 7, Hamas suddenly launched a large-scale attack on Israel, triggering war in the Middle East. The outside world generally believes that the CCP, Russia, and Iran are the spoilers behind this. The CCP tried to cover it up, but Russia confirmed it with actions.
Starting on October 10, the Russian army launched a fierce offensive around the town of Avdievka in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Intelligence shows that the Russian army may have assembled eight brigades of troops, equipped with a large number of tanks and armored vehicles, which cannot be deployed in the short term.
The Kremlin should have known for a long time that Hamas was preparing for a reactionary attack in early October; at the same time, the Russian army assembled heavy troops in eastern Ukraine, preparing to take the opportunity to launch a large-scale offensive and occupy more Ukrainian territory in one fell swoop.
The Russian offensive lasted for nearly a month and failed to achieve significant territorial gains. However, the casualty rate of the Russian army is considered to be the highest since 2023. The Ukrainian military said that in the previous 15 days of the Russian offensive, there were about 5,000 casualties and the loss of about 400 tanks or armored vehicles.
Ukrainian anti-armor weapons, landmines, drones and precision artillery fire should have effectively prevented the Russian offensive. The massive losses of equipment may be weakening the Russian army’s offensive capabilities, and the Russian army may have to turn to more infantry attacks without armor protection, similar to the Ukrainian army’s counter-offensive pattern.
The Ukrainian army has opened a deep gap in the Russian defense line in the Zaporozhye region and is close to the Russian main defense line. However, it has never used a large number of armored troops to attack and raid, but continues to maintain a small-scale infantry offensive. The huge losses of the Russian army demonstrated the significant risks of blindly carrying out armored assaults in open areas.
In mid-October, the United States delivered 31 M1 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but the Ukrainian army did not use them quickly in the counterattack. As Ukrainian President Zelensky said, the safety of military personnel must be prioritized. The Ukrainian army neither blindly committed large-scale armored forces nor risked Ukrainian infantry to attack regardless of life and death. This may make the outside world feel that Ukraine’s counterattack is progressing slowly, or even that the war has reached a “stalemate”, but this is a rational approach adopted by the Ukrainian army.
In contrast, the Russian military’s recent offensive had to implement orders from the Kremlin and coordinate attacks on Israel with Hamas, thinking that the United States and the West would be distracted; however, the Russian military’s combat operations were unable to effectively achieve their goals. The Russian military has suffered heavy losses, and the Kremlin seems willing to accept large casualties in exchange for marginal territorial gains. Intelligence shows that the Russian military command continues to send more troops to the Avdievka front line to maintain offensive capabilities, but it is difficult to make up for the loss of equipment.
Another wrong use of troops by the Russian army
In the past few months, the Ukrainian army has been counterattacking, and the Russian army has been unable to stop the Ukrainian army from advancing. The Ukrainian army gradually opened a trapezoidal gap in the main attack direction of Zaporozhye, and methodically approached the Russian army’s last main line of defense. The Russian army continued to send troops to reinforce the defense line, and even stuffed the airborne army, which was good at mobile assaults, into the defensive trenches and tried to counterattack, but the effect was limited.
On the surface, the Russian army’s reserves seemed exhausted and unable to support the long line of defense. However, the Russian army secretly retained a mobile combat force and owned a large number of armored vehicles. However, it did not invest in counterattacking the main offensive force in Ukraine. Instead, it launched a large-scale offensive in the east.
The Russian army intends to break through in eastern Ukraine and regain the initiative on the battlefield. The Russian army’s initial plan was to force Ukraine’s counterattack forces to return to defense, but it has not been able to achieve its goal so far. The Russian army suffered heavy losses, but did not break through Ukraine’s defense lines in Avdivka on a large scale.
The Kremlin is still ordering the Russian army to attack blindly, and another major failure is basically doomed. The reserve force maintained by the Russian army did not confront the main force of Ukraine, but was used to attack a small number of Ukrainian defense forces. It can be said that the gain outweighs the loss.
The tanks and armored vehicles lost by the Russian army in this battle are likely to be their last stocks. It will probably be even more difficult to organize similar mobile operations in the future. The Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine is also exploring converting positional warfare into mobile operations. The large losses of the Russian armored forces may create conditions for the Ukrainian army’s next mobile operations.
The blind attack by the Russian army is related to North Korea’s supply of weapons and may also be related to the recent meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping.
South Korean intelligence shows that about 10 batches of weapons have been shipped from North Korea to Russia. The total may be about 200,000 122mm artillery shells or more than 1 million 152mm artillery shells; there may also be T-series tank ammunition, anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers, various firearms and even short-range ballistic missiles. It is estimated that North Korea exchanged this for Russian satellite technology.
Estonian intelligence shows that Russia receives about 350,000 artillery shells from Pyongyang every month, one and a half times Russia’s own production capacity. After obtaining the much-needed ammunition, the Kremlin may have felt emboldened and blindly ordered a large-scale Russian offensive.
On October 18, Putin held a secret meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing, and it is estimated that he received some private assistance commitments, including at least military supplies such as drone accessories and missile electronic components, and more commitments to purchase oil and natural gas. All of this may have led to another misjudgment by Moscow and another erroneous use of troops on the Ukrainian battlefield.
The battle situation in the winter of 2023
As long as North Korea continues to provide assistance with artillery shells, etc., and as long as the CCP continues to secretly provide military supplies, the Russian offensive in Avdivka will not easily stop until the manpower can no longer be maintained.
The intelligence of the United States and NATO should have captured the Russian army’s plan long ago and helped the Ukrainian army make effective defense deployments, at a huge cost to the Russian army. This completely unequal attrition campaign will continue, and the adverse impact on the Russian army may be much greater.
The contact line between the Russian and Ukrainian armies is about 1,200 kilometers long. The Russian army may no longer have enough reserves to support it, but at least most of Ukraine’s main counterattack forces have not yet been committed.
The ground in autumn and winter is muddy and unsuitable for armored operations. The trenches will accumulate water and the soldiers face difficult combat conditions. Recently returned Russian soldiers have publicly described being “soaked from head to toe” for weeks at the front; they “couldn’t even make a cup of tea” and living in the mud of the trenches and eating “monotonous” food was a challenge . The outside world has always believed that the basic battlefield management level of the Russian army is generally very low.
After the winter freezes, it may be suitable for armored assault, but Ukraine probably still won’t take the risk, and the Russian army probably doesn’t have enough equipment. Trench warfare between the two sides would be more difficult, but would benefit the defending forces.
The Ukrainian army will not stop small-scale attacks in the main direction of Zaporozhye and the auxiliary direction of Bakhmut in order to seek larger and more favorable breakthrough opportunities. The Ukrainian army will continue to work hard to maintain feint attacks in the direction of Kherson, continue to cross the Dnieper River, and establish some bridgeheads to contain the Russian army’s defense to the greatest extent.
The war between Russia and Ukraine in the next two months may not be a “stalemate”, but it is also difficult to achieve breakthrough changes. It is said that the Russian government’s military expenditure in 2024 will account for 6% of GDP, and education and health care expenditures in 2023 have been frozen. Russian officials confirmed that more than half of those soldiers seriously injured and needing long-term medical treatment have lost limbs and will almost certainly require lifelong medical care. The cruelty of war is evident.
Moscow’s ability to withstand war is weakening, and Western military aid to Ukraine continues. ATACMS tactical missiles assisted by the US military have been used to attack Russian military airports and gunpowder depots; F-16 fighter jets are about to arrive; Ukraine is seeking to gain certain advantages over the Russian military, but it currently does not have the ability to quickly reverse the situation of the war. Not willing to take risks easily. If there are no other emergencies, this situation will continue until at least the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.
The Epoch Times first
Editor in charge: Gao Yi