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Putin to be tested by Ukrainian counterattacks

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Six months after Vladimir Putin announced the “special military operation” in Ukraine, Moscow’s commanders are said to be facing a “dilemma”. An intelligence update suggests they must choose between pursuing an offensive in the Donbas or to focus on defence in the south of Ukraine.

The UK Ministry of Defence this morning reported: “Over the last 24 hours, heavy fighting has taken place on three fronts: in the north, near Kharkiv; in the east in the Donbas; and in the south in Kherson Oblast.

“Russia’s planned main effort is probably an advance on Bakhmut in the Donbas.

“But commanders face a dilemma of whether to deploy operational reserves to support this offensive, or to defend against continued Ukrainian advances in the south.”

Intelligence officials at the British body added “multiple concurrent threats” over a large area will “test Russia’s ability to coordinate operational design”.

This will relate not only to the designation of troops but of resources.

Military economist Marcus Keupp today told German broadcaster NTV that “in a year at the latest, the Russian army will have no more tans if the rate of attrition continues at this rate”.

He said: “Russia still has artillery superiority”.

But within a month, the scale could be “roughly tied” between Russia and Ukraine with regards to arms.

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In June, some Ukrainian officials said there were plans for destroyed Russian tanks to be paraded in Europe to highlight Moscow’s failures and to maintain Western interest in the war.

Kyiv Defence Minister Olejsii Reznikov told Polish broadcaster Polsat: “We’ll help to ensure that Russian tanks are in Europe, but as scrap.”

British officials did not appear to rate Russia’s chances when questioning how well its troops will respond to the challenge of coordinating operational design.

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They said: “Earlier in the war, Russia’s failure to do this was one of the underlying reasons for the military’s poor performance.”

The success of Ukraine’s counterattacks could, however, rely on the ability of the West to continue supplying it with weaponry.

This ability becomes more strained by the week, as the West’s own supplies run dry.

A US defence official late last month told the Wall Street Journal that the level of military storage for certain combat resources are “uncomfortably low”.

Brad Martin, Director of the Institute for Supply Chain Secure at the Rand Corporation, added: “Nations assume the risk that war is not going to take place, and have the assumption they can react when they need to.

“It simply might not be true that you can ramp up [production quickly].”

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