The former Swedish air force officer and military analyst Mikael Valtersson has a comment column on Twitter where he follows the military situation in the Ukraine war. Here we extract his comments on 8 June 2023 on the Ukrainian offensive which is supposed to be underway and on the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam. He brings analysis that you are unlikely to find in Norwegian mainstream media.
It appears that the much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive has begun. Since yesterday, a series of waves of Ukrainian units have attacked the Russian positions south and southwest of Orikhiv. The fighting has been very fierce, but the Ukrainian forces have made only minor gains, and according to my Russian sources, there seem to have been heavy losses on both sides, but especially on the Ukrainian side. The Russian Ministry of Defense will probably claim later today that there have been several thousand Ukrainians killed and 50-100 Ukrainian combat vehicles destroyed.
After several failed attacks yesterday with limited artillery support, the UkrAF used a couple of hours of massive artillery barrage against the Russian forward positions before resuming the attack during the night, but to no avail. Currently, no attacks are underway, but large Ukrainian formations are in position for renewed attacks. The attacks will probably resume in a couple of hours.
I think the Ukrainian side is disappointed by the lack of progress. They must break through not only the first Russian defense line, but a large number of defense lines behind the first. To achieve success, the Ukrainian side cannot spend many days of heavy losses to break through every line of defense.
The next three or four days could be some of the most important days in 2023 when it comes to the war. If the UkrAF does not succeed in breaking through the Russian defenses and suffers massive losses during the attempts, the summer offensive will be short-lived and a failure. If on the other side Ukrainian forces break through, they have to attack the next line of defense and start over. The only way Ukraine can achieve significant success is if the Russian forces collapse under the pressure of the attacks and panic spreads. But that doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
Ukraine will need to achieve significant success during the offensive to make it worth the cost. A failure will change the perception of RuAF both in the West, but also in the rest of the world. The likelihood of a Ukrainian military victory will disappear. The pressure both within the western countries, but also from the west towards Ukraine, will increase to get negotiations to resolve the conflict. On the other hand, a victorious Russia might go for a military victory instead of negotiations and use a Ukrainian defeat for a major offensive.
For now, I am inclined to believe that the most likely outcome is a Ukrainian defeat. They have no element of surprise or numerical superiority and face an enemy with superiority in artillery and air power waiting for them in well-prepared fortifications. It is very similar to the Battle of Kursk in 1943. When the Third Reich threw all its reserves into an offensive against well-prepared Soviet defenses and used up all its carefully collected reserves in a couple of weeks, without much success.
Update on Nova Kakhovka
I don’t know who is responsible for the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, but if you do what you can to worsen the situation and destroy the remains of the dam, you are the main suspect, not the victim. Ukraine keeps the gates at the Dnipro HDD open (video) and the water flows south. The already undermined remains of the Novo Kakhovka dam are at risk of total collapse from the water pressure and subsequently worsening the flooding of Kherson oblast.
It is a clear indication that Ukraine is deliberately exacerbating the situation and is also a clear indication that Ukraine was the original culprit. The fact that the Ukrainians also increased the water level in the reservoir before the destruction of the dam is not proof of their guilt. They could not know that the Russians would not open the gates of the Novo Kakhovka dam. There may be a natural reason to open the gates of the Dnipro HDD before the destruction of the Novo Kakhovka dam, but afterwards nothing could be more important than reducing the flood in Kherson oblast.