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Reuters: Ukrainian troops on “active defense,” can still surprise, Ukraine ground commander says

Ukraine’s General Syrskyi notes the rarity of battalion-level offensives, influenced by increased drone usage on the battlefield, says Ukrainian troops are on active defense on the eastern front.
Ukrainian Army’s Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi in a military HQ in eastern Ukraine. Photo: Telegram/UA Land Forces
Reuters: Ukrainian troops on “active defense,” can still surprise, Ukraine ground commander says

The commander of Ukraine’s Ground Forces said Ukraine’s ground forces prioritize defense along the 1,000-km eastern front under his command, but their offensive capabilities should not be underestimated.

“Our goals remain unchanged: holding our positions … exhausting the enemy by inflicting maximum losses,” Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said during his interview with Reuters.

Syrskyi highlighted evolving battlefield conditions that have tempered expectations of a major Ukrainian advance. Despite Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive, Russian defenses mostly held, limiting gains before counterattacks.

Approaching the second anniversary of its full-scale invasion, Russia sought to take the initiative. Syrskyi noted their multi-directional push along the eastern front, aiming to secure control of the Donbas Oblast despite substantial losses. Russia also aimed to reclaim territory in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts to the south.

Currently, Ukrainian troops are engaging in smaller counter-attacks as part of what Syrskyi called an “active defense” strategy,  aiming to keep the enemy off balance and seize opportunities while Russia tries to regain the initiative. Both sides are conducting smaller engagements to conserve resources, indicating Russia’s adaptive response to limit losses.

“Offensives at the level of a battalion are a major rarity,” said the general, also noting that the tactic is changing due to the wider use of drones.

Earlier, Ukrainian military officials said Ukraine does not have enough ammunition to maintain the desired level of offensives and has called on Western allies to increase their support. 

Meanwhile, US lawmakers stalled the approval of a major military aid package for months so that the Pentagon has exhausted all Ukraine aid funds at the end of 2023, while Hungary, Russia’s key ally within the EU, vetoed Europe’s aid.

US announces $ 250 mn military aid package for Ukraine, “the last until Congress authorizes additional funds”

The delays in military assistance prompted Ukraine to boost its suicide drone production to compensate for artillery shell shortages. 

In the same interview, Syrskyi noted that the country needed additional military aircraft to bolster its war effort. Specifically, he mentioned American A-10 attack jets, which would provide support for ground operations and aircraft capable of launching long-range cruise missiles. He also added that the AH-64 Apache, AH-1 Super Cobra, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters could all fulfill vital roles in the scenario.

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