Strategic turning point in Ukraine's war against Russia would be capture of Armiansk - expert

  • 2024-02-23
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - A strategic turning point in Ukraine's war against Russia would be the capture of Armiansk, Sandis Sraders, research fellow at the Latvian Institute of International Affairs and lecturer at the Baltic Defense College, told LETA.

Speaking about the prospects for this year on the battlefield, Sraders said that it is extremely difficult for the Ukrainians to move forward - there is a shortage of artillery and ammunition, all kinds of supplies, but the most important thing is air defense, so the allies should provide assistance to Ukraine as soon as possible.

According to Sraders, what is promised is one thing, but what is happening on the front line is no less important. At the moment, the Ukrainians have crossed the river and bridges in Kherson and have moved the front line forward a little. It is strategically important for the Ukrainian army to take Armiansk. In that case, the Ukrainian army would be able to deal with airfields, supply chains and other strategic points in order to completely liberate the country from the occupying forces.

The expert noted that, despite the Crimean bridge, which is being targeted by the Ukrainians, it was necessary to deal with two more. If the Ukrainians succeeded in taking Armiansk, they could deal with all the air defense systems and ensure that the Russians would no longer be able to deliver supplies to the military forces in Crimea. That, he said, would be the tactical and practical thing to do in southern Ukraine.

"If the Ukrainians liberated Crimea, there would be no danger of Russia shelling or otherwise threatening NATO bases in Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova from Crimea across the Black Sea. This would directly affect our security. That is why political, military, economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine is essential," said Sraders.

He stressed that Russia is now trying to do everything to prolong the war and prevent the Ukrainian military from advancing. The researcher pointed out that the Russians have slightly changed their strategy, e.g. by diversionary actions, trying to recruit their own people into the Ukrainian army, especially in Crimea and the south-eastern regions. Sraders concludes that this is something that Russia did not do before and that this is dangerous.

"Russia is also using precision long-range strike capabilities against Ukraine, which is costly for Russia, but air defense is always more expensive than offensive strikes. Long-range missiles make the defense of Ukraine financially bulky. Of course, the moral mood of the population must also be taken into account. It is suffering, the missiles hitting different objects. Also, Ukraine does not have enough funds for air defense," said the lecturer from the Baltic Defense College.

He pointed out that Russia's big advantage is human resources. The Russians can recruit and send to Ukraine an almost unlimited number of people, for example if 15 to 20 people are recruited from a village of 3,000 to 5,000 inhabitants, this cannot be considered as a significant mobilization of society. Ukraine has fewer human resources, but it must be borne in mind that the Russians have to train the conscripts and make them fit for action in order to be able to carry out combat operations successfully.

According to the expert, if Ukraine managed to kill 40,000 to 50,000 Russian soldiers in six months, it shows that the Russians are sending unprepared people to fight because they do not have time to train them. He stressed that the West must train the Ukrainians, develop more effective and better training programs to offer them, so that they can lead larger units and carry out important operations.

"This must be done in the long term, in addition to military and financial support, because Russia is trying to weaken Ukraine in various ways - to undermine public morale and resilience, to block exports, ports, destroy infrastructure. Russia is also trying to weaken the Ukrainian army in every way, by various methods. I have outlined the medium-term issues that we need to address. It is important for Ukraine's allies and for Ukraine to regain Crimea and to take this important step to make a change on the battle field," said Sraders.

The researcher stressed that without expecting additional Ukrainian victories without military support, the West must provide all the military support necessary for the Ukrainian army to capture Armiansk, destroy the occupying military forces in Crimea and then, using this strategic and politically very important symbolic advantage over Russia, liberate all of Ukraine from the Russian occupying army. In his view, only such a policy will improve the security situation in Europe and contribute to the transformation of political traditions and the change of power in the Kremlin.