Russia has “enormous military difficulties” and is forced to defend itself, says German expert Nico Lange. Western heavy weaponry increases Ukraine’s capabilities and leads to a turning point in the war.
The command center in the Stuttgart district of Weichingen in southwest Germany is where the US, along with more than 50 other countries, coordinate military aid to Ukraine. In the same area is the European Command of the US Army (EUCOM), which since the beginning of July has been under the command of US General Christopher Cavoli.
For months, representatives of dozens of countries have been coordinating their political actions within the so-called contact group on which country can supply what weapons to Ukraine, and also on what route heavy weapons, such as the US HIMARS artillery mounts or the 2000 self-propelled howitzers supplied by Germany and the Netherlands, will reach the Ukrainian front.
Russia must now “respond” to Ukraine
This aid may have led to a turning point, says German Ukraine expert Nico Lange. “The decisive moment of the last few days is that Russia is now forced to react to the statements and actions of the Ukrainians. Until now it was the opposite: the Ukrainians were forced to react to everything that Russia did,” says Lange. Through the targeted bombings with HIMARS on ammunition depots and command units of the Russian army, the Ukrainians managed to reduce the area of shelling in the eastern and southern parts of the country “five-six times”, confirms the adviser to the Ukrainian president Mykhailo Podoliak in an interview with DV .
According to Nico Lange, “Russia has now moved its forces to the south, both to Kherson and Zaporizhia, to strengthen itself there and focus on securing and holding the conquered territories.” It is clear from a British intelligence report that Russian units are using the area around the largest nuclear power plant in Europe – the Zaporizhia NPP – for protection. Russia is using “the protected site of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk to its equipment and personnel from nighttime Ukrainian attacks,” the report said.
In early August, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requested access to the nuclear facility for the same reason. “This shows that the war is changing and that Russia is forced to react to Ukraine,” says Niko Lange. This disproves the myth that Russia can “escalate to infinity” – Russia has “enormous” military difficulties. “Both north of Kharkiv and Kherson in the south, the Russians have gone on the defensive, showing their firm will to hold these territories.”
Ukrainian partisan counter-offensive?
For several weeks now, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been talking about a counter-offensive in the southern part of the country. “The Ukrainian attack will not be like that of the Russians with a devastating wave of shelling. It will also rely on partisans, on uprisings in the occupied cities, on mobile operations in the rear of the enemy,” suggests Lange.
In the city of Kherson occupied by Russian forces, leaflets and posters continue to appear with warnings to the Russian occupiers. “We know all your patrol routes,” they say, and “Kherson is Ukrainian.” “The Russians have big problems with controlling these areas,” says Lange. “There is serious partisan activity in the occupied part of the Zaporozhye region: Russian patrols are being massacred at night,” says Lange.
On Twitter, the Ukrainian regional governor of the Luhansk region, which is almost entirely occupied by the Russians, wrote about a partisan action in the municipality of Belovodsk. There, Ukrainian partisans had shot and wounded the Russian-appointed mayor and his deputy. The subsequent search for Ukrainian illegal fighters by Russia proved unsuccessful. But this information cannot be confirmed by independent sources.
The location of the incident is surprising: Belovodsk is located deep in the Russian-occupied territory of the Luhansk region, only 40 km from the Russian border. That is the announcement of the regional governor can also be interpreted as a signal to Western supporters: the guerrilla struggle is gaining momentum in remote regions as well.
Requests for more high-tech weapons
Belovodsk is beyond the range of the HIMARS missiles delivered so far by the US, whose maximum range is 84 km. But the artillery systems can also launch ATACMS missiles with a range of 300 km. Ukraine also wants such weapons from the Western contact group and its operational center in Stuttgart.
So far, the US has resisted because the Ukrainian military could use it to reach Russian territory. However, in recent months the readiness to supply more advanced weapons systems has increased. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he felt “like in a video game” where the goal is to reach the next level. But the Ukrainian soldiers killed on the front line had only one life each.