RIGA - In the war started by Russia, the tactical operational ground initiative is currently completely on the side of Ukraine, this is the assessment made by the head of the Armament Control Service of the National Armed Forces, Colonel Eriks Naglis, in an interview with the Ir magazine.
In his view, this initiative is primarily in the military field, because Ukraine successfully succeeded in liberating Kharkiv and Kherson, and Ukrainians now also have a moral initiative.
Currently, the most difficult sectors on the battlefield are Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Donetsk, but in general the Russians still have no success there. "There are local battles taking place - here one side attacks, here the other. You can say - a difficult stable situation," said the colonel.
Russia, on the other hand, is now forced to defend itself and go on the defensive, a major change since the beginning of the war. "A rather chaotic operation is taking place on the Russian side - the Ukrainians, with their operations, force them to throw themselves from one sector of the front to another. (...) The opponent must be outsmarted by cunning and wisdom. The Ukrainians have succeeded in this at the moment," added the military official.
In the expert's view, the overall situation at the front shows how successfully the Ukrainians manage to wage war and force Russia to play by their rules. "We must try to maintain and develop this initiative, and under no circumstances stop," Naglis said. "I think that the Ukrainians will have some pauses on the entire front, but they must definitely look for the next [Russian] weak point where they can deliver a strong blow."
The colonel believes that one option the Ukrainians should do now is to become more active in the Zaporizhia region and with an offensive operation try to drive a wedge between the groups of Russian troops currently in Kherson and those in the Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions, trying to cut them off either in the direction of Melitopol, or Berdyansk, because the wedge would create the next effect - the entire grouping of Russian troops, which is now in the Kherson region, would actually be cut off from the supply via land.
On the other hand, the liberation of Crimea, in the opinion of the expert, could be more complicated, because the Russians perceive it more as their territory, accordingly, they would prepare more seriously for the defense of Crimea. "The Russians then would redeploy their forces from other sectors of the front to the defense of Crimea. This would open up opportunities for the Ukrainians to liberate the Donetsk region and maybe somewhere else. The "chasing" of Zaporizhzhia and Melitopol would be the next thing that the Ukrainians should think about. And as evidenced by the movement of troops, this could possibly be the next scenario," Naglis estimated.
"Crimea is a separate story in general. The Russians will treat it more seriously. Crimea is an important military bastion of Russia, the Black Sea Fleet is located there. Since the annexation of Crimea, they have invested efforts and funds to deploy large and various troops there, including missiles. Losing Crimea would mean Russia would lose its entire Black Sea fleet and influence over the Black Sea. This would be a very strong blow for them," the officer added. "This does not mean that Ukraine should not try to regain this territory. But it would be a more complicated, serious issue. But creating the sense of threat that they could do it immediately should certainly make things easier in the other sectors of the front."
According to Naglis, Ukraine must "maintain the pace, the initiative, push, push, push," because if the Ukrainians stop, the Russians will gain a handicap and have time to supply their units.
The colonel admitted that Russia's expectations, looking at what is happening on the battlefield, are almost incomprehensible. "Everything is quite sad for them. Yes, this is the hope of the Russians - to continue shelling Ukraine's civil infrastructure, energy supply systems. If there is no electricity, a series of other problems immediately arise - not only the lack of light, there is also no heat, water supply. The goal is one - terror and to make society suffer in this way, so that they put pressure on their president and the government to stop the war, to come to peace talks with Russia - we are freezing, sinking in the dark, it is winter."
"This is probably the card that Russia is emphasizing now. If nothing can be shown on the battlefield, then with terror tactics they will try to get the Ukrainian population to put pressure on their government. (...) Unfortunately, without achieving success on the battlefield, such tactics will continue to be used by Russia," the military person concluded.