Wondering what the Ukrainians are waiting to attack? It's simple. They expect the Russians to be completely stressed to the point that it psychologically undermines their military capabilities.
This expected counter-offensive is undoubtedly the most publicized military operation in decades. Analysts, journalists and specialists of all kinds go there with their predictions on the moment of the start of the attack and on who will be the winner. I bet on the Ukrainians.
The Ukrainians know that their counter-attack could well decide the war. They hope it will cause a collapse of the Russian forces. Which is not to be excluded out of hand. Ukraine needs to make serious military progress this year to head off the possibility that the 2024 US elections will bring Putin's friend Donald Trump to power in Washington.
- Listen to Normand Lester's column at the microphone of Richard Martineau, available as a podcast on QUB radio :
The depression of the Russians
To get there, Ukraine must undermine the morale, not only of the combatants, but also of the Russian population and elites.
Putin must be in panic mode right now. His attempt to annex Ukraine ended in a huge and humiliating fiasco. His troops are now reduced to defensive operations. He knows that if they fail to contain the Ukrainian offensive, his days could be numbered.
The long-awaited Kyiv counter-offensive to retake the occupied territories is being prepared by psychological warfare operations. Their purpose is to affect the enemy's morale, to cloud his state of mind. An indirect strategy intended to “mentally shape” the battlefield before the full-scale offensive. Deceive the Russian command and force it to disperse its forces.
This is not only stressing the enemy's army, but also its population. It is already “mission accomplished” for the Ukrainians. Russian morale is not at its highest level and has never been since the start of the “special military operation”. And nowadays, military failures are amplified by social networks.
- Listen to Normand Lester's column at the microphone of Richard Martineau, available as a podcast on QUB radio:
An indirect strategy
The Ukrainians are already engaged in a psychological offensive. Yesterday morning, several drones, hit by anti-aircraft missiles, fell on an affluent suburb of Moscow where Putin has a residence. No warning alerted Muscovites. Russian radars could not detect the drones which were flying very low. Kyiv said it was not involved in the attack, but predicted more would come. Three weeks ago, two drones were shot down over the Kremlin.
This was preceded by a series of attacks on various infrastructure in Russia and attacks by Russian anti-Putin supporters in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border, forcing the Russian command to divert front line troops to rear areas.
Ukraine has already used similar tactics successfully last summer. After talking for weeks about a counter-offensive towards Crimea, when the Russians had moved their forces south. Kyiv instead launched a blitzkrieg to the northeast that broke through the Russian lines around Kharkiv.
As a bonus, Russian forces to the south withdrew from Kherson to consolidate their defensive positions, giving the Ukrainians an unexpected victory.