The expectation of a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the war with Russia has been going on for months without a drastic change in the battlefield. Last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that the country needs more time to launch the “expected counter-offensive”.
According to him, the Armed Forces of Ukraine are waiting for the promised supply of Western weapons to counter-attack Moscow and try to retake territories in the east of the country. The G7 summit this weekend could fulfill this expectation.
On the other hand, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Evgueny Prigozhin, who leads the Russian battlefront in Bakhmut, previously stated that, in practice, Ukrainian troops have started their counter-offensive. The same repercussions occurred on the main channels of pro-Kremlin military propagandists, who, last week, disseminated information that Ukraine’s long-awaited counter-offensive had begun, reporting a siege by Russian forces in the direction of Bakhmut, and the breach of defenses near from the town of Soledar.
The intensity of rumors in the Russian media space led the Ministry of Defense to refute that a Ukrainian counter-offensive was succeeding. According to the folder, “the statements released by individual telegram channels about advances in various parts of the contact line do not correspond to reality”.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday that military operations in Ukraine were being conducted “intensively” across different parts of the frontline. However, he stated that it is too early to talk about the start of a full-scale counteroffensive by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In an interview with Brazil in fact, the analyst of the research center Ukraine United, Aleksei Kushch, stated that official declarations in the context of war always carry a propagandistic character and, in relation to the expectation of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, informational warfare precedes the military initiative. According to him, the most diverse official statements on the Ukrainian side, for example, aim at “the spread of a certain panic in the divisions of the Russian army and in the political elites of Russia”.
“All this is an instrument of an informational offensive. So of course no one is going to announce any specific dates. The most we can say is that the president [Volodymyr] Zelensky, when asked about the counteroffensive, clearly said that Ukraine is preparing for this counteroffensive and it will take place, because the liberation of Russian-occupied territories for Ukraine today represents part of the Ukrainian national idea. Therefore, it is clear that all economic resources, all society’s resources, are aimed at restoring the country’s territorial integrity”, he highlighted.
According to the researcher, the determining factor for the viability of a large-scale counteroffensive is the disparity in the economic potential of the countries in conflict: “War is always a struggle of economic potentials, because the military potential is actually the result of the potential economic-industrial”, he argues.
Thus, Aleksei Kushch observes that, at first glance, Russian economic potential is greater than that of Ukraine, but such an analysis generates distortions, as one must take into account the coverage that Kiev receives from allied countries.
“We see that the military industrial complexes of the allied countries that are supporting Ukraine today are working on supplying military equipment and ammunition to the Ukrainian army, and consequently the coverage of Ukraine from the industrial complex point of view lies precisely in the economy of these allied countries” , he says.
G7 may determine “trigger” for counter-offensive
The recent tour of the Ukrainian leader in Europe renewed expectations for the start of the counter-offensive with the promise of new weapons by Western allies to Ukraine. During his visit to Berlin, when asked by journalists if he had been able to supply enough weapons to launch the offensive, Zelensky briefly replied: “A few more visits and that’s it.”
He also said that Ukraine is working to create a “fighter coalition”, referring to seeking aviation supplies from partner countries to strengthen its fighting strength.
On Friday (19), at the beginning of the G7 summit, it was reported that US President Joe Biden confirmed Washington’s participation in the initiative to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighters, including the F-16. The information was released by a White House source, according to which Joe Biden would have already informed other leaders than the G7 about his decision. Zelensky celebrated the information of support from the White House.
“I salute the US President’s historic decision to support an international fighter jet coalition. This will greatly increase our army in heaven. I look forward to discussing the practical implementation of this decision at the G7 summit in Hiroshima,” Zelensky tweeted.
Increased pressure on Russia is one of the main mottos of the G7 summit. On the first day of the meeting, on Friday (19), the leaders of the group agreed to expand sanctions against Russia. Also renewed was the West’s commitment to provide military and financial aid to Kiev.
“Today we are taking new steps to ensure that Russia’s illegal aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine fails and to support the Ukrainian people in their quest for a just peace rooted in respect for international law,” the statement said.
Analyst Aleksei Kushch recalls that the history of military aid from the West to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian intervention has been subject to gradations in the type of military equipment that the allied countries were willing to provide.
These “waves of military aid” grew from artillery ammunition, air defense systems, to the supply of offensive weapons such as tanks, drones and medium-range missiles. “Now, it is clear that the next wave will be aviation supply”, he adds.
Also on Friday (18), when talking about Zelensky’s participation in the G7 summit, the head of the presidential office of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, confirmed that Zelensky will meet with US President Joe Biden and discuss the creation of the international “fighter coalition”.
“Today we can officially say about the creation of an aircraft coalition, and this suggests that Ukraine will soon have everything it needs to protect our Ukrainian skies, our cities and our citizens,” added Yermak.
By all indications, the G7 summit may give President Volodymyr Zelensky what he needs for Ukraine to launch the promised large-scale counter-offensive against Russia.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho