By David Sole
The past days have seen a big increase in Ukraine air and sea drone attacks against the Russian Federation forces and even hitting downtown Moscow. These dramatic incidents, however, are not militarily significant. They are meant to cover up and divert attention in the West from the complete failure of the Ukrainian “counter-offensive” that began June 4.
Ukraine’s stated goal as it prepared for their June offensive was to quickly break through Russian defenses in the south and east fronts and reclaim large swaths of Russian annexed areas. The first waves of Ukrainian troops and heavy armor, supplied by the U.S and other NATO nations, was decimated. Huge mine fields, heavy artillery and drone defenses and Russian air power wiped out many thousands of troops as well as a large percentage of the tanks and other armored vehicles.
No significant advances on the ground were made by Ukraine. Reports then arose of Ukrainian forces leaving their heavy equipment behind and advancing slowly on foot. This also yielded no notable successes.
On July 26 the New York Times reported that the “Main Thrust of Ukraine’s Offensive May be Underway.” Citing two Pentagon officials the Times dutifully reported that Ukraine was “throwing in thousands of troops held in reserve, many of them Western-trained and equipped” against Russian forces in the southern Zaporizhzhia arena. The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed a strong attacking force was being engaged there.
But only one week later, on August 2, Business Insider had to concede that “Ukraine troops are abandoning US tactics…because they haven’t worked.” The “new tactics” Ukraine is falling back on are “wearing the enemy down with artillery and missile barrages.” But the U.S. and NATO have been unable to supply artillery and missiles in sufficient numbers to Ukraine. And Russia has, all along, enjoyed a superiority in both artillery, ammunition and missiles. Most media, including pro-Ukrainian outlets, have admitted the Russians out gunned the Ukrainians six, or even ten, to one.
All of this points to the failure of the Ukrainian offensive. In fact the Russian Federation forces in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) have been advancing against the Ukrainians. The July 26 New York Times reported “In the northeast, [Russia] is once again mounting fierce offensive operations. A Ukrainian battalion commander told the Times “They are constantly attacking us….On some days they shoot without stopping.”
While Ukraine is unwilling to admit any of these problems, the truth is leaking out. The Russian Ministry of Defense, in its latest estimations, says that Ukraine “has lost over 43,000 troops since…June” along with “over 4,000 pieces of heavy weaponry.” These figures have not been confirmed by Western sources or they are being challenged. One should remember that the United States falsified its losses in the Vietnam War and anti-war activists took to listening to shortwave broadcasts of “The Voice of Vietnam” emanating from Havana in order to get the truth.
It should also be expected that Ukraine would be having difficulty in filling its army’s ranks with new recruits. An August 4 report says that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly exposed “revolting” practices found by auditors of the country’s military recruitment offices. “The investigation is revealing numerous abuses…And they are frankly revolting.” In Odessa “the head of a military recruitment centre…accused of corruption and embezzlement was ordered held in pre-trial detention.”
Despite the failing offensive and massive losses sustained by Ukraine, the U.S. is sending a package of more weaponry “which includes artillery, air defenses and mine-clearing equipment.” The July 25 New York Times reported on another $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. This includes “32 Stryker armored personnel carriers…and munitions for Patriot anti missile systems and National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems.” Also “Stinger antiaircraft systems and the …High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, as well as munitions for Javelin and other anti-tank weapons.”
But more equipment is unlikely to change the situation on the ground. Ukraine is worried that its failure to advance will weaken support among the public in the West. To divert attention from its failures, Ukraine has shifted to grabbing headlines with numerous sea and air drone attacks against Russian targets in Crimea and inside Russia itself.
In the past days explosives delivered by air drones have struck buildings in downtown Moscow, causing some damage. On Sunday, July 30 and again on Tuesday August 1 two drones got through Russian air defenses to strike a skyscraper. Other drones were reportedly taken down by air defense units.
Crimea, controlled by Russia since 2014 and home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, has also been the target of numerous drone attacks. Most of these have been either shot down by anti-aircraft fire or brought down by electronic jamming devices. Several have reached their targets. On August 4 Ukrainian drones hit a Russian oil tanker on the Black Sea, damaging it but not sinking it or causing major injuries.
While these attacks are dramatic and are being played up in the Western media, they are not militarily significant in the overall war effort by Ukraine. Russian Federation forces may, at some point, storm against the exhausted Ukrainians and switch from defensive to offensive operations as is happening in the northeast sector. As willing proxies of the U.S. and NATO who care nothing for the Ukrainian people, Zelensky and company will continue a war that can only lead to more death and destruction.