Russia’s Summer Offensive: Fierce Battles in Kharkiv, NATO Officers Hit by Kinzhal Missile | WPG

Russia’s Summer Offensive: Fierce Battles in Kharkiv, NATO Officers Hit by Kinzhal Missile | WPG.
After two major battles earlier this year in Avdiivka and the Bakhmut hotspot, Russian forces temporarily reduced military activities to reorganize their forces in preparation for new offensives. In early May, the conflict reignited fiercely with an attack on Kharkiv, the second-largest and most important city in Ukraine, considered the capital of eastern Ukraine. To be fair, the Ukrainian military is organizing its defense quite well and has repelled several of Russia’s violent attacks. However, Russia continues to increase pressure and is organizing its forces for a major offensive this summer. Russia is currently deploying 500,000 troops in Ukraine and near the border, and Moscow plans to add another 300,000 troops to reinforce for the summer offensives. The upcoming conflict is expected to be extremely fierce, with Russia aiming to open a new front in the north and deploy all its military power and firepower to decisively take Kharkiv. If Russia attacks in an all-out manner like this, it seems they are aiming to annihilate the entire Ukrainian side.
Despite their valiant efforts, Ukraine, with its limited defense capabilities, is in dire need of Western weaponry aid, especially air defense systems. Russian missile forces, including the formidable Iskander, Kinzhal, and Kalibr missiles, are dominating battlefields across Ukraine. Recently, a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile struck a Ukrainian training base, killing several NATO officers. Specifically, the Russian military used the Kinzhal hypersonic missile to attack the Zborowski training base in Ukraine, located about 30 km northwest of Lviv province. The attack occurred on the night of May 28 at the Jaworski base, where over 300 Ukrainian armed forces personnel and military instructors from NATO countries were present. This training facility is a crucial logistical center for the Ukrainian armed forces, involved in transporting armored vehicles, air defense systems, and ammunition to central and eastern Ukraine. The attack resulted in 180 soldiers killed and 200 wounded, including military instructors from Belgium and the Netherlands. Additionally, reports indicate that besides the Zborowski training base, an F-16 fighter control center and a Ukrainian armed forces command post were also targeted. Despite knowing that these training centers housed NATO personnel, Russia still conducted the airstrike, risking further conflict escalation. President Putin firmly stated that there were Western experts disguised as mercenaries there, and they were well aware of this.
Russia’s current strategy is clear: to use its superior missile forces to continuously attack Ukrainian bases and training centers while they are regrouping for a major offensive. This explains why President Zelenski has been repeatedly urging the West, particularly the US, to quickly deliver military aid to Ukraine, especially air defense systems. Meanwhile, the US is preoccupied with supporting Israel, and the $61 billion aid package remains uncertain for Ukraine. Zelenski has even expressed a desire for Israel’s Patriot missile systems, but despite Israel’s lack of enthusiasm for these systems, they have not agreed to provide them to Ukraine. This situation has put Ukraine in a real bind.

Returning to the conflict in Kharkiv, Russia is learning from early mistakes in the war. As mentioned in many previous videos, Russia has shifted from rapid, overwhelming assaults to siege tactics, eliminating external support and Ukrainian defense infrastructure. This is evident with the Surovikin Line and battles in Avdiivka and Bakhmut. Even before advancing into northern Kharkiv this month, Russian forces engaged in several small battles, gaining control of border villages and forcing thousands of Ukrainian civilians to evacuate. This approach fits the current situation, where Ukraine lacks sufficient troops to deploy across all fronts, while Russian forces use multiple penetrations in eastern Kharkiv before launching a major offensive here. They have also opened a new front in northeastern Kharkiv in preparation for a summer offensive. Besides Kharkiv, Russian forces have made advances in Donetsk province, eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine is struggling to recruit enough soldiers to reinforce the front lines and rotate out exhausted troops.
Moreover, about half of the promised Western weapons aid to Ukraine is delayed, expected to arrive by the third quarter of this year. For now, they may only receive a batch of F-16 fighter jets for their air force. The situation is dire, with Ukraine losing ground on multiple fronts. According to the Ukrainian General Staff’s report on May 28, Russia is increasing attack activities across the entire defense line, with 108 clashes recorded on that day. By that evening, intense fighting continued in 18 areas in Ukraine, with Pokrov facing the most complex situation. In Kharkiv, Russia launched six attacks on Ukrainian positions on May 28.
Attacks continued in Vovchansk in northeastern Ukraine, where Russian forces used guided bombs and military aircraft to conduct deadly strikes from Russian territory without entering Ukrainian airspace. In Chasiv Yar, Russia attacked Ukrainian positions 19 times in one day. Fierce clashes also occurred near Petropavlivka and Zaporozhye, with nine other clashes in Kurakhove since the morning of May 28.
Additionally, there were 16 Russian attacks on Lyman, six on Kramatorsk, and 10 on Pokrovsk. Five more attacks were launched on Vuhledar in the Pivnichny front. Along the left bank of the Dnipro River, a total of 10 clashes were recorded. Ukrainian forces are on the verge of collapse due to continuous, grueling fighting and are close to abandoning their positions.
Notably, on May 29, Russian forces conducted four mechanized attacks with small combat units along several fronts in Donetsk province. Russia’s method of persistent, grueling attacks is putting enormous pressure on Ukraine’s entire defense line. It is clear that Russia is gradually and steadily destroying Ukraine. Analyzing the situation, it becomes evident that if infantry and mechanized forces launch strong assaults on a few key Ukrainian positions, the outcome could be disastrous for Ukraine.

Ukraine might concentrate its forces to defend effectively due to their numerical advantage. However, Russia in 2024 has not allowed that. They have fragmented their forces, leveraging their superiority in missiles and air power to launch continuous attacks on multiple points and fronts, forcing Ukraine to stretch its defenses across many fronts. Naturally, defenders need larger numbers to hold multiple points, losing mobility, while attackers can focus their forces on specific points. This strategy, combined with shelling key defense industry and energy facilities, has nearly exhausted Ukraine’s ability to supply the battlefield. Consequently, they are scraping together new recruits to send to the front lines and are desperately seeking weaponry aid from the West. This tactic puts Ukraine’s entire defensive system under relentless pressure, as they never know when or where the Russian forces will strike, keeping them constantly on edge. This approach by Russia is showing significant results, with Ukraine continually losing ground and retreating to defend major cities.
After a day of intense attacks, by May 29, Russian forces had gained control of numerous settlements in the town of Vovchansk, Kharkiv province. Despite Ukraine deploying large reserves to this direction, Russian forces fortified their positions wherever they advanced, preventing Ukrainian counterattacks. They aim to gradually engulf each battlefield in Ukraine. Ukrainian reserves are attempting to flank the Russian operational forces here, but the Russian military has anticipated this. Russian forces are using artillery and air support to counter these moves, ensuring their plans are not disrupted. On May 29, Russia also seized control of Staromariivka in Donetsk province, forcing Ukrainian forces to retreat to the northern outskirts. This advance is expected to expedite Russian control over the neighboring settlement of Urani. So far, Russian armed forces have taken control of 49 settlements in Kharkiv province. With this gradual, encroaching tactic, it seems inevitable that Kharkiv will fall to Russian forces.
Senior Ukrainian military leaders have recently acknowledged that the situation on the eastern front has deteriorated and shifted against them. Two years of war have severely depleted Ukraine’s ammunition and manpower, and their failed counteroffensive last year further dampened morale. Along the 1200 km eastern front, Ukrainian soldiers from infantry, artillery, and drone units are visibly exhausted. The Russian attacks on Kharkiv earlier this month are likely to force Ukraine to divert precious ammunition, equipment, and manpower from other fronts to support Kharkiv, thinning their defenses at a critical time. Additionally, Ukraine’s artillery ammunition shortage has become a decisive factor in their struggle to repel Russian advances.
It is evident that Russia’s strategy of relentless pressure is highly effective. Their advantage in air power and missile forces allows them to attack at will. Ukraine’s already weak UAV air defense systems are quickly neutralized by Russia’s formidable electronic warfare capabilities. If this trend continues, it is highly likely that Russian forces will capture Kharkiv by the second quarter. Meanwhile, NATO is facing internal disagreements over supporting Ukraine, further complicating the situation. In this dire context, 10 NATO countries, including the UK, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Sweden, and Estonia, are willing to allow Ukraine to carry out attacks deep into Russian territory using Western-supplied weapons. France is particularly enthusiastic, urging other members to support Ukraine in using Western weapons to strike Russian territory. The idea is to use Russia’s own tactics against them. Striking energy and weapon facilities in Russia could slow the pace of Russian attacks in Ukraine. However, the US, the leading member of NATO, is obstructing Ukraine’s efforts to attack Russian territory. It is well known that without the green light from the US, no actions can proceed. The US remains steadfast in prohibiting Ukraine from using American weapons to strike Russian territory, repeatedly voicing opposition to such actions, fearing it could escalate the conflict into a full-scale war between Russia and NATO. This stance is understandable, as the US is already entangled in the Middle Eastern conflict with its close ally, Israel. Engaging in another conflict with Russia simultaneously would be precarious. Clearly, Russia is adeptly reading the situation and executing a very effective strategy: persistent, encroaching attacks to deplete Ukraine’s resources. This approach aims to gradually destroy Ukraine, while NATO, as usual, shows a lack of unity. If this continues, Ukraine will suffer further losses.

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