Ukraine Defense Minister: ‘million-strong army’ to recover south
Ukraine wants to reclaim the nation’s south from invading Russians with a “million-strong army” armed with Nato weaponry, the defense minister says.
Oleksii Reznikov said that retaking the Black Sea coast was critical to the country’s economic well-being. However, according to the BBC’s Joe Inwood in Kyiv, the words are more of a rallying cry than a specific plan.
The Russian military is making gains in the eastern Donbas, as the defense minister noted.
Several individuals were killed after a bomb went off in a block of apartments on Sunday, killing at least 18 people.
The five-story building in Chasiv Yar, near Kramatorsk, has been the focus of a Russian advance, and rescuers are still searching for survivors.
Asked about the UK’s role in helping Ukraine migrate from Soviet-era weapons to Nato-standard air defense systems and ammunition, Mr. Reznikov said the UK was the “key.”
A quicker turnaround on weapons supply, he claimed.
In a statement by the defense minister, he said that “We need more, quickly, to save the lives of our soldiers. Each day we’re waiting for howitzers, we can lose a hundred soldiers.”
“We have approximately 700,000 in the armed forces, and when you add the national guard, police, border guard, we are around a million strong,” he added.
In contrast, Dr. Jack Watling, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, warned against the estimate.
According to Mr. Watling, the BBC was informed that “It’s not a million-strong force that will be conducting a counter-attack.” He added, “Normally, you would want an operational surprise when you launch a counter-attack, so announcing it publicly is partly about forcing the Russians to commit resources more widely to guard against this threat.”
When politicians directly intervene in military campaigns, there is always a risk.
Retaking part of the land that Russia had captured was “politically very necessary,” Oleksii Reznikov remarked.
Trying to revive Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea ports is also crucial from an economic standpoint. Russia’s military might think that Ukraine has a window of opportunity to take back territory in the south while Russia concentrates its efforts on the east.
However, the reality is that the bloody conflict in the Donbas has already eaten a significant portion of Ukraine’s military resources.
Some of the units needing reinforcements have already lost more than half their personnel.
The supply of more powerful long-range artillery systems has bolstered Ukrainian confidence, although the quantity of systems Ukraine claims it needs remains deficient.
Even if it boosts morale, it’s possible that it will cause things to bog down. In the area around Kharkiv and Kherson, Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations have had limited success. They still have a long way to go before they can thoroughly reorganize their forces.
The perils of fighting on several fronts are well-illustrated by Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine. Most of its goals were not met. For this to work in the east, it must concentrate its efforts.