Signs indicate that Ukraine has discovered a strategy to shatter the impasse in the Russian counter-offensive, largely by neutralizing Moscow’s primary weaponry.
Nico Lange, a Ukraine specialist at the Munich Security Conference, has communicated to The Economist that Kyiv appears to be making strides in dismantling the barriers obstructing their counter-attack efforts, employing intensified assaults to disable Russian arsenals. Prominent Russian assets like the Ka-52 helicopters and self-propelled guns are in their crosshairs.
According to Lange, Ukraine’s counter-offensive has gained considerable momentum in the past fortnight as it strives to eliminate the obstacles hindering its progress.
The British Ministry of Defense previously acknowledged the instrumental role of Ka-52 helicopters in furnishing Russia with a notable edge on the battleground. London designates these aircraft as “one of Russia’s most influential weapons systems” in the Zaporizhia region, the focal point of Ukraine’s counterattack.
As per the British assessment, Russia’s advantage on the southern front in the face of enemy counter-attacks is primarily attributable to the deployment of attack helicopters armed with long-range missiles. This augmentation has bolstered the precision and effectiveness of Russian strikes against ground targets.
Visual evidence from the field reveals Russian attack helicopters launching precision missiles that devastate adversary military convoys, resulting in substantial damage.
As reported by the Eurasian Times, the Ka-52 has earned the moniker of Russia’s “foremost tank destroyer,” exemplifying its efficacy in neutralizing hostile tanks on the battleground.
However, Ukraine is pursuing the eradication of these helicopters through the use of man-portable missiles and short-range air defense systems.
Based on reports by the Oryx group, Russia might have suffered the loss of 40 Ka-52s since the onset of the conflict. Oryx functions as a platform for collating battlefield images to visually verify damage from both sides.
It’s worth noting that the aforementioned figure doesn’t account for two Ka-52 helicopters that Ukraine claims to have downed from Russia on August 17. According to The Economist, Russia possessed around 100 Ka-52 helicopters before the outbreak of the conflict; however, this number might have dwindled to approximately 25.
Russia, up until now, hasn’t responded to the figures presented by Oryx or The Economist. In the midst of a fierce conflict, it remains exceedingly challenging to accurately gauge the extent of damages sustained by both parties, especially considering both sides frequently disseminate unfavorable information about each other.
Besides targeting the Ka-52s, Ukraine is also intensifying its utilization of suicide drones, precision strikes, and cluster munitions to incapacitate Russian artillery systems.
Artillery plays a pivotal role in Russia’s “fire barrier,” a defensive line stretching over 1,000km along the frontline. Beyond minefields, anti-tank barriers, and fortifications, Russian artillery serves the dual purpose of preemptive strikes and thwarting breakthrough attempts by the adversary.
Russia frequently allows Ukrainian forces to approach the vicinity of the minefield before unleashing concentrated fire from tanks and anti-tank missiles from the flanks, catching the Ukrainian tank and armored units off-guard and increasing the risk of stumbling into a minefield. Subsequent to the destruction of Ukrainian tanks and armor, Russia proceeds to employ mortars and artillery to target the exposed infantry.
In conjunction with minefields, artillery has emerged as the primary cause of Ukraine’s most significant casualties during the 18-month-long conflict. To overcome Russia’s defensive barrier, Ukraine has been compelled to find methods to disable Moscow’s artillery assets and thus break through the adversary’s fortified position.
The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on August 9 that Russian forces had forfeited 5,013 artillery systems over a span of one and a half years of hostilities.
Moreover, in a bid to counter the overwhelming firepower of the Russian side, Ukraine is not solely focusing on directly assaulting Moscow’s artillery systems, but is also progressively directing its efforts towards dismantling Russia’s artillery arsenal.