If military situation reports coming out of Ukraine are to be believed, then one will recognize that Russian arms have suffered a few reversals, since Wednesday of this week. Moreover, one will recognize that Ukraine’s military has made considerable gains, since the start of the special operation on 24 February.
On the northern front, to the east of Kyiv, the town of Slavutch and the city of Chernihiv have been relieved, with direct overland supply corridors being established to each; further east, the Mena-Shostka axis has been cleared by Ukrainian forces (or Russia withdrew from it), leaving a wide swath of hostile territory between the Russian groups operating in the Chernihiv and Konotop regions. Some of the towns that are located in this liberated zone, include: Kholmy, Pyrohivka, Shostka, Krolevets, Korop, Sosnytsya, and Borzna. This liberated corridor is approximately 105 miles (170 kilometers) in length, while varying in width, from 25 miles (40 kilometers) to 55 miles (90 kilometers).
On the southern front, Russian forces have either withdrawn, or been driven from, two areas: northwestern Kherson Oblast on the right bank of the Dnipro River: including the towns of Borozenske, Velika Oleksandrivka, Lyubymivka, Vysokopillya, Kachkarivka, and Mylove.
The second area lies further east, in the Mariupol region; Ukrainian forces reoccupied territory taken by the Russian Army and Donbass militias in the previous week, along a northwest-southeast axis, roughly from Pokrovske to Mariupol. If the situation map is a true representation of the situation on the ground, it means that Ukrainian forces are just 11 miles from Mariupol.
Compare Russian territorial losses on the map above, with those on the map below.
What the events of the last 24 hours tell us – if the situation reports they are based on, are faithful and true – is that the Ukrainian Armed Forces – without little or no air cover – undertook 3 widely separated offensive operations – simultaneously. Moreover, these three widely separated, simultaneous offensive operations all achieved a measure of success – simultaneously. In the opinion of this blog, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are simply incapable of such a feat on their own. They have plenty of spirit, there is no doubt there, but in the opinion of many observers prior to the 2022 invasion, the Ukrainians lacked the organizational ability to carry out offensive operations – more so, since many command, control and communications (C3) sites were destroyed by Russian bombardments. When considering the ability of the Ukrainians to counter every Russian move and to then inflict reversals on it, not just locally, but operationally in several places simultaneously, I am reminded of the Battle of Britain, which took place in the summer and autumn of 1940. Hitler’s Luftwaffe was tasked with defeating the Royal Air Force, as a pre-condition for a successful German amphibious invasion of the British Isles. The plan for that assault was code-named Operation Sea Lion. That it never came about was due entirely to the Royal Air Force’s victory over Hitler’s Luftwaffe – and much of that victory was owed to a new military technology available to the British: radar. RADAR, or Radio Detection and Ranging, allowed the British to know precisely which path attacking German aircraft were flying on. This information was relayed to Fighter Command, which was then able to concentrate its smaller force of fighters at the most vital points of air defense. As a result, the more spread out German forces were never able to establish superiority and Luftwaffe losses in bombers and aircraft mounted. Unable to defeat the Royal Air Force, the Germans were forced to postpone Operation Sea Lion, indefinitely.
Now it’s nearly a century later, and spy satellites and electronic eavesdropping have become for modern armies, what radar was to Great Britain in 1940. All those real-time images from satellites above earth, and electronic means for intercepting enemy communications, allow modern armies to know enemy intentions and plan for them accordingly. Modern communications allow command structures to be aware of battlefield events in real time, and respond swiftly. Ukraine, to the best of my knowledge, has no space program of its own, nor an independent satellite launch capability; therefore, it does not have its own top-tier, well-integrated C3 system – it has to come from elsewhere. That elsewhere is either NATO or the United States. The Ukrainian Army’s ability to first block Russian Army offensives and then launch counteroffensives – not only on one axis, but on multiple axes simultaneously in less than a month, suggests to this blog that NATO has inserted its command, control, and communications systems into those of Ukraine. NATO, with its HQ in Brussels, is effectively in command of this war and directing it against the Russian Army and Moscow.
Blog Editor Patrick Cloutier is the author of Mussolini’s War in the East 1941-1943.