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From innovation to liberation: Ukrainian soldiers embrace modern approaches to warfare ahead of counteroffensive

ukraine counter offensive 2023 news
Ukrainian soldiers. Source: Zelenskiy/Telegram
From innovation to liberation: Ukrainian soldiers embrace modern approaches to warfare ahead of counteroffensive
“Currently, the war is being waged at a completely different level,” Ukrainian soldiers determined to reclaim occupied territories from Russian forces say ahead of the counteroffensive.

A long-awaited counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Army against Russian troops is about to enter its second week. We asked several Ukrainian soldiers how they prepared for the assault which has started without an official announcement and already deoccupied seven villages on the southern front.

Does Ukraine has enough weapons to recapture its territories and how do modern military strategies change developments in combat zones? What challenges do Ukrainian soldiers expect during the counterattack and why is it proceeding cautiously?

“There is no such thing as ‘too many arms’ in the war,” says Viktor from the 77th Separate Airmobile Brigade

Ukrainian defenders continue to undergo training in fire support, defense, and assault actions for success on the battlefield, regardless of whether the army prepares for offensive or defensive operations, says Viktor, the correspondent of the Public Relations Service of the 77th Brigade.

ukraine counter offensive 2023 news
A soldier of the 77th Separate Airmobile Brigade. Source: FB/77oaemb

According to him, Ukrainian soldiers are now highly motivated, well-equipped, and ready to reclaim territories from Russian troops. In addition, their determination to oust the invaders from occupied towns and villages grows with every attack Russia launches on Ukraine.

The 77th brigade is also equipped with modern military weapons for a victorious breakthrough. However, in the war, there is no such thing as “too many arms,” says Viktor.

“We always need more equipment. The more weapons, ammunition, and missiles we have, even if they aren’t directly provided to our brigade but to other Ukrainian military forces, any precise long-range weapon gives more opportunities to preserve the lives of our soldiers.

The better the artillery performs, the less infantry will have to participate in assaults and dangerous attacks. We have weapons from European and American partners. Are they enough? The ‘enough’ concept doesn’t really exist during the war. We always want more,” he explains.

ukraine counter offensive 2023 news
Soldiers of the 77th Separate Airmobile Brigade. Source: FB/ 77oaemb

According to Viktor, military vehicles, drones, and artillery shells are the weapons that the Ukrainian army needs now to achieve victory over the Russian forces.

Furthermore, he states that the occupiers have exhausted their assault capabilities and are currently conducting defensive operations.

We waited for a counteroffensive, Serhii or Ispanets (“Spaniard”), senior sergeant of an infantry unit fighting on the Zaporizhzhia front, reveals

During the past week (8-15 June), the Ukrainian forces on the Zaporizhzhia front liberated 7 settlements, regaining control over 103 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory, as reported by Brigadier General Oleksii Hromov during an interview at the Military Media Center.

The success of the counteroffensive on this front is driven by an efficient military strategy, says a soldier known as “Ispanets,” who fights against Russian troops in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Ukraine counter offensive 2023
Serhii, a senior sergeant of an infantry unit fighting on the Zaporizhzhia front. Courtesy image

“A sufficient number of units were already prepared and deployed to the different Ukrainian fronts cleverly, considering our curved front line. Everything was done in such a way that for a certain period, we simply waited for an order for offensive action, defending our positions and preventing the enemy from advancing to us while accumulating troops and equipment,” Ispanets said.

“The strategy has now resulted in the success of our operations on the Zaporizhzhia front,” says Ispanets. Our country has a lot of highly motivated and courageous infantry soldiers,” he adds.

According to him, some Western partners expect the offensive to be as quick as it’s shown in movies. “But we are advancing slowly because we prioritize the safety of our soldiers,” he explains.

To enhance the effectiveness of the assault, Ukraine needs more mortars and drones.

“I can say that Russians are also learning from us. Just six months ago, I didn’t spot any kamikaze drones on the Zaporizhzhia front but a few days ago, they used them. I managed to acquire one for analysis. Now I want to identify the company responsible for selling these kamikaze drones or their components. The enemy has effective weaponry, and I have particular concerns over anti-aircraft missile systems, such as SPG-9 Kopyo recoilless guns and anti-tank-guided missiles. A lot of Russian infantry soldiers are on our way,” he says. Additionally, Ispanets reveals that Russian forces have started to construct strong fortified trenches.

“If we built trenches the way ‘orcs’ do, we would have more survivors. I once spent several nights in such a ‘burrow’ and survived 120mm artillery shells fired at us. It will be challenging to drive them out. I am currently teaching soldiers not to rush into Russian trenches. If we have to storm their positions, they shouldn’t go in there,” he explains. However, Ispanets adds that Russian soldiers have begun constructing such fortifications because the “Armed Forces of Ukraine have motivated them” to seek cover.

ukraine counter offensive 2023 news
The trenches of Russian forces. Courtesy image

Ukrainian soldiers are doing everything possible to achieve victory and prevent future wars in the country, he tells. “Right now, we are advancing in Briansk Oblast. Why? To establish a demilitarized zone so that ‘orcs’ cannot shell our border territories. Once it is established, there may be a chance for peace. However, in order to make it happen, we must reclaim as much of our territory as possible. Then we can initiate peace talks with Russia or at least try to launch negotiations. Because war, above all, entails losses, and we are losing the soul of our nation.”

“Currently, the war is being waged at a completely different level,” Dmytro, a commander of one of the units of the Ukrainian defense forces explains

“We have seen a lot of liberated settlements and heard numerous stories from people about the horrors of the Russian occupation. Ukrainian soldiers understand that other territories should be recaptured as swiftly as possible because our people are still there,” says Dmytro, a military commander of one of the units that liberated Kharkiv Oblast in 2022.

He added that Ukrainian warriors underwent training and learned modern warfare standards ahead of the counteroffensive. “Some units trained abroad, while experienced inspectors visited other units. It’s a new tactical approach, a fresh attitude to warfare,” he explains.

The adoption of modern training standards provides more freedom to soldiers while placing more responsibility on each fighter, which is seen as a beneficial development that fosters a more capable and adaptable military force, says Dmytro.

ukraine counter offensive 2023 news
Ukrainian soldiers. Source: Ukraine’s General Staff

According to him, the Ukrainian Army adopted the concept of “delegation of authority” from Western exercises, which is especially relevant to military leadership. Previously, infantry soldiers had to wait for decisions from their commanders and generals, resulting in significant time delays when the situation on the battlefield changed.

Today, commanders have the autonomy to make independent decisions based on their assigned tasks. They simply provide reports on changes in the front to generals, who then adjust accordingly. As Dmytro explains, the Russian Army not only hasn’t implemented this approach but also teaches soldiers according to 1960s standards, including the preparation of positions, bunkers, and trenches.

Additionally, Dmytro emphasizes that each Ukrainian military unit now has tablets and applications such as “Kropyva” and “Delta” which help soldiers to defeat the enemy. “Currently, the war is being waged at a completely different level,” he says.

“During Lyman liberation, we found telephone devices which were created in 2010,” Dmytro reveals, highlighting the contrast in equipment between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Despite the advantage in weapon quality, there is an endless scarcity of equipment during the war. “Pickups and jeeps are essential for us because they allow us to arrive and leave quickly,” Dmytro elaborates.

“The operations in Balakliia, Izium, and Lyman against Russian troops provided valuable information which helped us build an effective strategy. A few times we met reasonable young men on the Russian side who tried to introduce innovations that deviate from conventional approaches. They can pose some challenges, but fortunately for Ukraine, not everyone shares the same mindset,” he concludes.

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