Ukraine-Russia, “next 48 hours to understand war progress”

Russian forces are showing that they learned from their mistakes in the first phase of the invasion of Ukraine, but problems remain in the chain of command and the supply of spare parts. This is what the Washington Post writes today, citing sources from the Pentagon, while the offensive in the Donbass has begun. According to analyst Mick Ryan, a retired Australian general, the next 48 hours will help us understand: if Moscow’s forces achieve a significant breakthrough, it will be a sign of greater competence. If this is not the case, he will mean that the Russians have not learned from their mistakes and “the Ukrainians are as good as we think they are”. To prepare for the offensive that had just started, the Russians amassed troops and supplies for weeks. “They are deploying heavy artillery, commanders and controllers, aviation, especially helicopter support … it seems they are learning the lesson” of the failed Kiev offensive, when they lacked refueling capabilities, notes a senior Pentagon official. . However, thanks to the sanctions, the Russians still have problems with the repair and replacement of vehicles, especially spare parts, notes the official. Military analysts also point out that the Russian army has a “cultural” problem with a super centralized command that does not allow troops on the ground to make important decisions. “They may have more artillery and better logistics,” but it will take more time to adjust the leadership culture, notes Ryan. According to the Pentagon official, Russia has sent 11 new battalions to Ukraine, bringing the total to 76, all of which are expected to be deployed to the east and south. If Russia manages to take Mariupol, the source adds, it will allow a dozen tactical battalions to be used on other fronts. For now, the Pentagon official explains, the heaviest fighting is around Popasna, a city under Ukrainian control before the invasion, located between the self-proclaimed separatist republics of Luhansk and Donetsk. Apparently, the Russian soldiers intend to move from the city of Izyum, with the aim of driving out the Ukrainian soldiers from the population centers of Popasna and Slovyansk, areas 200 km north of Mariupol that already saw fierce fighting in 2014.