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Ukrainian counteroffensive prioritizes attrition over rapid territorial gains, ISW assessments reveals

05/07/2023
2 minute read
Ukrainian counteroffensive prioritizes attrition over rapid territorial gains, ISW assessments reveals
Ukrainian forces utilize attrition tactics to conserve manpower and gradually weaken Russian forces, prioritizing destruction over swift territorial gains, as indicated by the US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War’s assessment.

Ukrainian forces appear to be focusing on creating an asymmetrical attrition gradient that conserves Ukrainian manpower at the cost of a slower rate of territorial gains, while gradually wearing down Russian manpower and equipment. 

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov reported on July 4 that Ukrainian forces are performing their main task of destroying Russian manpower, equipment, fuel depots, artillery, and air defenses and that a “war of destruction is equal to a war of kilometers.”

Danilov’s assessment underlines the prioritization of Ukraine’s ongoing campaign to attrit Russian manpower and assets over attempting to conduct massive sweeping mechanized maneuvers to regain large swaths of territory rapidly. NATO Military Committee Chair Admiral Bob Bauer reported on July 3 that Ukrainian forces are correct to proceed cautiously and avoid high casualties in the counteroffensive and acknowledged that the counteroffensive is difficult due to landmines and other obstacles up to 30km deep into Russian-occupied territory. Bauer stated that Ukrainian forces should not face criticism or pressure for moving slowly.

Ukrainian forces have liberated territory in multiple areas of the front since the start of the counteroffensive in early June. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported on July 3 that Ukrainian forces have liberated a total of 37.4 square kilometers in eastern and southern Ukraine in the past week.[3] Ukrainian forces are continuing to make steady, gradual advances.

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