Ukraine is fighting brutal five-front war against Putin – here's what happens next & it's bad for Vlad, says top general | The Sun

WHEN Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counter-attack in June, many hoped it would quickly smash through Russian lines and end the war by Christmas.

That hasn’t happened and instead, Kyiv has found itself fighting on five fronts, according to analysis by retired Australian general Mick Ryan, of the CSIS think-tank.

Troops are grinding out assaults in the south and east, drones are battling it out by air and by sea, and diplomats are soliciting overseas aid to keep the gears of war turning.

Failure on any of these fronts could prove fatal to Zelensky’s ambition to liberate his whole country, so Kyiv must now execute a careful balancing act – ensuring gains in one place don’t lead to losses in another.

Here, experts break down how Ukraine is progressing on each front, what its commanders need to do to next ensure victory, and how the war might play out into 2024 – and beyond.


Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive suddenly roared into life on June 4 as a two-pronged assault was launched in the south.


Ukraine wipes out ‘hundreds’ of Putin’s men on a beach using US missiles

Massive explosion rips through Moscow skyscraper in new drone attack

But almost as quickly as it started the attack seemed to stop, with Russian propagandists flaunting images of wrecked German Leopard tanks and US Bradley fighting vehicles.

Analysts Michael Kofman, Franz Stefan-Gady and Rob Lee, who recently returned from the frontlines, believe this was a genuine attempt by Ukraine to make a rapid breakthrough that backfired and ended with heavy losses.

That forced a re-think: The Ukrainians are now attempting to grind down the Russian defences while holding Western gear back to deliver a hammer-blow once the line is weak.

Steph Twitty, a retired US general now with the CEPA think-tank, told The Sun: ‘They are making incremental progress, which is better than no progress.

Most read in The Sun


Heartbreaking details emerge about S Club's Paul's struggles before death at 46


How posh UK resort became rowdy teen hangout – with drugs & underage sex


BBC star signs up for Strictly after quitting news job for music career


Wilko sale shoppers say ‘there’s hardly anything left on shelves'

‘What you're seeing are tactical victories, but as long as they can whittle away then they can turn into strategic victories such as breaking the main defensive lines.

‘A lot of people are critical but I’m not. There are multiple minefields, trenches, wire fences, reconnaissance forces, and the main defensive belt to get through.

‘You want to do this slowly because lives are at stake.’

That strategy is now paying off. In recent days Ukraine has recaptured the town of Staromaiors'ke, in the southeast, and is threatening Robotnye, in the southwest. 

The goal remains a breakthrough of Russian lines, which General Ryan says is still possible.

‘It won’t be the sudden rush that people had hoped for in the early days and weeks,’ he said. ‘You can break through fast or slow but at the end of the day it is still a breakthrough.

‘And you only have to break through in one place. Then you need to hold the break open, and bring in forces to exploit it.

Put simply: ‘Ukraine needs to kill Russians and take territory,’ General Ryan says.


Wagner spent the long winter months capturing Bakhmut, but almost as soon as they took it Ukraine began taking it back.

Unlike in the south, where Russia had months to dig trenches and lay mines, defences in the east are light and that has meant Ukrainian troops are advancing much faster.

Flanking moves to the north and south have put the city in danger of being surrounded, with General Ryan saying the Russians will be ‘forced to make some difficult decisions soon.’

In an attempt to alleviate pressure on Bakhmut, Russia has gathered around 100,000 troops further to the north and is attacking Ukrainian lines near Kreminna and Svatove.

But, observers from the ISW think-tank noted: ‘This Russian effort has likely been somewhat muted by the diversion of elite troops from southern Luhansk to Bakhmut… 

‘Russian gains in Luhansk have been generally less significant than Ukrainian gains around Bakhmut… It is far from clear, therefore, if the Russians will benefit as much from their diversionary efforts.’

And this is almost certainly what the Ukrainians wanted, according to General Twitty, who characterised the Bakhmut attack as a ‘supporting effort’.

He added: ‘[The Ukrainians] have two axes in which they’re applying pressure. 

‘The two-pronged attack in the south, which is the main effort, and the supporting effort in Bakhmut.

‘You want to put pressure in multiple places so if one falls Russians will have to move forces to support that area. You want to keep them guessing.’ 

Moving forward, General Ryan said the focus in the east should be to draw in and wear down as many Russian units as possible to stop them being deployed elsewhere.

‘What they do now should be making sure Russians aren’t capable of mounting a winter offensive after this battle is over’, he said.


Russia has now expanded its deadly drone and missile barrage of Ukraine’s cities to include its ports and grain warehouses on the Black Sea and Danube River.

The move aims to wipe billions off the Ukrainian economy by blocking exports, whilst forcing Kyiv to make an impossible choice between protecting its civilians or its grain.

That’s because, even though Ukraine’s allies have supplied air defences, the country is simply too big to protect in its entirety, General Ryan says.

But Kyiv has begun hitting back, striking Moscow several times with long-range drones including two hits on the same tower block which houses a number of important ministries.

That has pressured Putin and prompted a crackdown on dissent, with high-profile war blogger Igor Girkin – who has been highly critical of the war effort – now under arrest.

General Twitty adds: ‘What the Ukrainians are doing with drones, they’re thinking strategically about this fight. They are posing the Russians with multiple dilemmas.

‘Now they have to think about protecting their capital, protecting the homeland, as well as defeating the attack to break the land bridge [between the Donbas and Crimea] and an attack in Bakhmut.

‘The war hasn’t hit Russia properly, it hasn’t disrupted life of Russian people, but now you’re starting to see that more.

‘I would expect Ukrainians to ratchet this up and try to break the will of the Russian people.’


Ukraine has no functioning navy, and yet it has still managed to mount naval operations.

The latest developments have seen seaborne drones like the Magura V5 used to attack Russian warships, the port of Sevastopol, and the Kerch Bridge.

On August 4, a Russian transport ship was blown up in the port of Novorossiysk by a drone believed to be a Magura, while they were also used unsuccessfully to attack intelligence ships Ivan Khurs and Priazovye.

A second sea drone attack also damaged a tanker just 24 hours later leaving it completely stranded.

Sevastopol, Russia’s main naval base in the Black Sea, has also been targeted several times by drones that were shot and sunk.

But an audacious attack against the Kerch Bridge – which links Crimea to mainland Russia – was successful and took down part of the road bridge last month.

The road is less important than the rail section for disrupting military transports, but the attack nonetheless serves as an important propaganda win for Kyiv.

Now, Russian warships are attempting to blockade Ukraine’s ports to stop grain supplies from flowing which Kyiv is bound to try and target.

‘Those drones will be seeking to make it difficult for Russia to have freedom of movement in the Black Sea,’ General Ryan adds.

‘Ukraine has no navy to speak of so there will be no big naval engagement, but they will try to limit Russia’s ability to operate.’ 


Though it lacks the attention-grabbing drama of the counter-attack, General Ryan believes success in the strategic campaign is where Ukraine’s true route to victory lies.

Kyiv has to keep its Western allies motivated for the long fight, he says, because the war will almost certainly last into 2024 – and maybe beyond that.

That means supplies of vital ammunition, air defence missiles, armour and cash will have to keep flowing whatever else is going on in the world.

Ukraine is also desperate for deliveries of F-16 fighter jets – which its pilots are due to train on soon – and long-range ATACAMS missiles.

But important elections in Taiwan, which could rile up China, and America, which could return Donald Trump to power, are likely to prove a distraction next year.

‘‘Maintaining Western strategic patience is key,’ General Ryan says.

‘I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance this war could continue into 2025. And the reason it could go on is because of the Russians.

‘Ultimately it is they who will decide when the war ends, because they will hopefully be the ones who are defeated and decide to withdraw.

‘Putin still thinks that a long war is the winning strategy for Russia. Most of his assumptions about the war have been wrong and I hope he’s wrong about that too.

‘We [kept patient] in Afghanistan for 20 years and we should do the same in Ukraine. The country is much more important to Western security than Afghanistan ever was.’

General Twitty agreed: ‘The thing I would reinforce is: This will be a long, protracted war, and it will take a while for Ukrainians to accomplish the mission of breaking Russian defences.

Read More on The Sun

Inside Paris Fury’s relatable life – from days out with her 6 kids to B&M trips

EastEnders legend unrecognisable 25 years after shock soap exit

‘There is a lot more fighting that has to take place here before the Ukrainians are successful. Time is what folks need to understand.’

But, asked whether Ukraine can be successful, he added simply: ‘I do.’

Source: Read Full Article