Ukraine's strategy is to isolate Russian troops says expert

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British military expertise underpinned a successful counter-offensive in eastern Ukraine which has seen Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces regain hundreds of square miles of territory previously occupied by Russia. Mr Zelenksy apparently gained confidence that his troops could prevail after a series of briefings from Washington and London, Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s policy chief, explained.

Mr Kahl’s remarks came after Russian state television claimed British-trained Ukrainian soldiers had helped their country gain the upper hand, with one analyst describing the situation as “troubling”.

Thousands of Russian troops fled Izium at the weekend, leaving behind large amounts of ammunition and equipment, in their worst defeat since they were driven back from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in March.

Mr Kahl, speaking to the New York Times, said: “We did do some modelling and some tabletop exercises.

“That set of exercises suggested that certain avenues for a counter-offensive were likely to be more successful than others.

“We provided that advice, and then the Ukrainians internalised that and made their own decision.”

The briefing demonstrated to Mr Zelensky that Moscow would have problems rapidly to reinforcing troops in northeast Ukraine and would likewise struggle to redeploy troops from the south.

Speaking in Washington yesterday, John Kirby, US National Security Council spokesman, said the US would soon provide more supplies of arms to Ukraine – although he insisted it was too early to say whether the gains made signalled a watershed moment in the war.

He added: “What you’re seeing is certainly a shift in momentum by the Ukrainian armed forces”.

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Nevertheless he emphasised it was for Mr Zelensky himself to “determine and decide whether he feels militarily they’ve reached a turning point.”

War was “unpredictable”, he warned, despite the “dramatic events”.

Speaking on Russia One, Russian presenter and political commentator Olga Skabeeva voiced her concern at Ukraine’s military gains.

“Ukraine’s armed forces went on the offensive.”

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She explained: “As a result of difficult battles, there is information that Russian units have left Balakliya.

“Fighters of the National Guard left the area. They have left the city in an organised manner via the corridor on the outskirts in the east.

“For its advancement in the direction of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s armed forces used the units that have been trained in Britain.” 

She added: “The news is troubling, the information is inconsistent.”

Ukraine claims to have taken back more than 2,300 square miles of territory since the start of the month in an offensive predicted by Brendan Kearney, the former Chief of Staff with the US Marine Corps Forces Europe in Germany, last month.

He told the BBC: “The Russians have quickly shown that their military is really quite honestly, borderline useless.

“You just can’t perform the way they have in their treatment of civilian populations and expect to be successful on the battlefield. It just doesn’t allow for it.

“Because then doesn’t really reflect the required integral strength of an organisation when it can be so ill-disciplined.”

Mr Kearney added: “I think there’s a very short window of opportunity, where the Ukrainians might be able to achieve some significant successes against the Russians.

“And this is all predicated on what weather. August is one of the warmest months in Ukraine and the temperature starts to drop from now through December, January, February, the depths of winter.”

“No one can forecast whether it’s going to be a mild winter or it’s going to be a brutal winter, none of us knows.

“But Ukrainians between now and say late October, November, when the rains the temperatures start to drop, do have an opportunity to go ahead and achieve some success, whether that success will be so great as to eject Russian forces from Ukraine I don’t know but that’s their opportunity.”

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