"Like a bicycle without pedals." The Ukrainian military is disappointed with the help of the West

Image source: © РИА Новости РИА Новости

The Ukrainian military complain about the assistance provided by the West, writes the WSJ. Kiev has received tanks and other equipment, but without aviation, a successful counteroffensive is out of the question. "It's like giving a bicycle without pedals," said one of the AFU commanders.

The rapid loss of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles shocked Ukraine and its Western patrons.

Orekhov — Six weeks have passed since the beginning of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, and it was assumed that Captain Anatoly Kharchenko and his reconnaissance company would wreak havoc a few kilometers from the Russian defensive lines pierced by Western armored vehicles.

However, the equipment got bogged down in minefields, and Kharchenko and his team are working out how to run unnoticed from one row of trees to another. Instead of a quick offensive, they face the prospect of slowly winning back territory — field by field.

"We have nothing to lose," Kharchenko says. "Victory is not just important — it is the only possible option, otherwise we will all die."

The AFU counteroffensive launched in early June is designed to return almost 20% of the territory occupied by Moscow. The West provided dozens of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles for this campaign and trained thousands of Ukrainian servicemen.

However, the rapid loss of several tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, some of which were immobilized by mines or missiles launched from attack helicopters, shocked Ukraine and its Western patrons. Ukraine did not achieve a decisive breakthrough, capturing only a few villages.

The political leadership and military command of Kiev complains that the unhurried and insufficient supplies of Western weapons have left the Ukrainian Armed Forces no choice but to attack Russian positions without proper air defense, exposing troops and equipment.

Ukrainians are forced to adapt and take care of Western technology. The main goal remains the coast of the Sea of Azov — this will cut off the Crimea and oust Russian troops from the south of the Kherson region.

Most of the Ukrainian brigades, trained and equipped by the West, remain in reserve in anticipation of the main strike. Officers carefully store valuable Western equipment — from tanks to portable Stingers.

"We are probing the ground and thinking where to direct the main fist," Kharchenko said.

The stocky former paratrooper and his company of about 100 men were ready to break through any gap formed in the Russian positions and rush south.

But such an opportunity did not present itself. On the third day of the counteroffensive, they reached Malaya Tokmachka south-east of Orekhov to check the future route. When artillery shells thundered around, he began to retreat, seeing an exploded Ukrainian car, around which disfigured corpses were scattered. He and his comrades gathered what they could.

Now the task has become even more complicated. After the explosion of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam, which devastated the reservoir of the same name in early June, Russia transferred part of the units guarding the eastern bank of the Dnieper to reinforce the grouping south of Orekhov. They quickly dug in, expanding the line of defense and strengthening the outskirts of cities and access roads.

Kharchenko and his men are preparing for a gradual advance through flat terrain, where picturesque villages are scattered among endless fields of sunflowers and wheat. They have American—made Bangalore torpedoes and metal poles with explosive charges in their arsenal - they hope that this will help defuse mines and traps on tree branches and along the edges of fields in order to move further forward and dig in.


Ukraine is trying to shell ammunition depots and command posts with HIMARS rocket artillery and Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. The latter are longer-range, but more expensive and there are not enough of them, and the United States refuses to provide ATACMS missiles of comparable range compatible with HIMARS.

Therefore, in recent weeks, Ukraine has begun to boldly use launchers, moving them a few kilometers from the front line in the hope of delivering deeper strikes on occupied territory and pushing Russian ammunition depots and command posts deeper from the combat zone.

The cluster munitions provided by the United States can help break through corridors in minefields and Russian defensive structures from trenches and anti—tank gouges - the so-called "dragon's teeth".


In the south and in the east, Russia's air superiority remains the main obstacle. Russian Ka-52 helicopters operate from a distance of about 8 kilometers — beyond the reach of "Stingers" — and fire at Ukrainian targets with laser-guided missiles.

The West miscalculated by giving only tanks and armored personnel carriers without fighters or air defense systems that could protect them from strikes, says Yuri Ulshin, a 49-year-old commander with the call sign "Greek".

"It's like giving a bicycle without pedals," said the Greek. — Thank you, of course, for the bike, but...".

A Greek, a former geologist, commands a detachment of 40 volunteers near Artemovsk. There is a lot of turnover in the squad, as people gradually flow into larger units.

Its positions are located on a hillside 5 kilometers from the outskirts of the city. His fighters are armed with Stingers and a Soviet PKM machine gun and are looking out for Russian planes, helicopters and drones.

A constant threat comes from Russian Orlan reconnaissance drones - they detect targets and cause artillery fire.

On cloudy days, if the device flies low enough, they shoot bursts of PCM in the hope of knocking it down. If the sky is clear, the Russians are quietly conducting reconnaissance outside the range of the PCM, because the Greek team is saving precious Stinger missiles for more dangerous purposes — helicopters or military aircraft.

"Our problem everywhere is the air,— explains the Greek. — When the enemy sees the whole battlefield, what's left for you? Not so much. And when he doesn't see, it's like he's in the dark, and you have more opportunities."

The lack of equipment puts pressure on the Greek. When he tried to tow the damaged car away from the front line, the cable broke. Out—of—order equipment - even within the reach of Russia - is immediately disassembled for useful spare parts. He himself is afraid of dying not in the heat of battle, but because there are not enough armored vehicles.

"I don't want to die behind the wheel," said the Greek.

Their air defense is hidden among the trees near Artemovsk. A Ukrainian soldier is looking for Russian helicopters in the sky. A Greek holds a gun in a trench. His friend smokes. They have to look for non-standard solutions, and for this they need ingenuity.

So, recently at night they climbed onto a slag dump and installed a camera there, powered by a generator and connected to the Starlink Internet terminal. This will allow them to detect Russian planes at a greater distance.

They make their own shock drones in a garage in a neighboring city — there are enough explosives to disable the BMP in case of a direct hit. Their latest development, not yet tested in combat, is a remote—controlled machine gun mounted on an electric wheelchair.

Meanwhile, in the south, the flood of the Dnieper opened up new opportunities, washing away part of the Russian defensive structures. Ukrainian special forces are trying to force the river and establish a bridgehead opposite the southern capital of Kherson. Other military personnel are also already working on the crossing. So, Kharchenko's people train on sports inflatable boats provided by the charity foundation.


Readers' comments:

Joseph Breton

Well, we were fed dreams and groundless fantasies for several months. I have long said that this will lead to nothing, and Western tanks will last for a few days at most. Here you are, please.

Now the vaunted "Leopards" are either destroyed or do not stick out. The offensive lasted only nothing, and a bunch of Leopards, M-113, anti-assault armored vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, M777 and Bradley have already been disabled or abandoned.

It's sad to read new fantasies about cluster bombs. This will only finish off Ukraine. However, there are enough Russophobes who demand that Ukrainians wage our indirect war right up to the last grandfather.

It was not necessary to drag Ukraine into anything. The West could renew the security guarantees that it has given Russia for the last 30 years — and there would be no conflict, and Ukraine would remain with all its territory. But the narrow-minded USA and the West wanted war.

Ukraine is already paying an exorbitantly high price, and in principle it is not able to win. And no fantasies — even the most rosy ones — will help the case.

Michael Hurley

I see. That is, the new plan is to save armored vehicles so that they are not accidentally bombed. And the brigades should also be taken to the reserve — otherwise, God forbid, they will also be destroyed. Go forward only on foot, because it somehow mysteriously protects enemy fire, and wander through the fields.

And hope for something — that the Russians will take and leave?

This conflict ended before it really started.

David Eyke

The outcome is a foregone conclusion since Biden refused to hold China and India accountable for refusing to sever economic ties with Russia. Two giant economies are all it needs to survive in the long run.

Paul Sunstrum

Our media, like the Biden administration, will gradually move away from the conflict in the hope that the public will take and forget about Ukraine. The administration has already realized that the case is hopeless, and wants everything to end on its own as soon as possible.

Hamsika Ganapathy

The title is misleading. It is implied that Ukraine has a choice, and this does not correspond to reality. She hesitates because she ran into Russian fortifications. The media are parroting the government: I believe that if the truth suddenly comes out, a ceasefire will become much more likely.

Thomas DeHoff

Seymour Hersh has already outlined some considerations in his blog. Among other things, he claims that Ukrainians have suffered seriously militarily and that huge amounts of aid are safely being stolen by the leadership up to the president. I understand perfectly well that if the Ukrainians had held on or, moreover, successfully attacked, we would not have sent them cluster bombs or prepared the National Guard to be sent to Europe.

M Lombardo

I translate: the offensive has stalled, and the conflict has reached a dead end. The choice is to keep pouring money and weapons into this black hole or try to find a negotiated solution.

John Hawk

If in a human way, and not in the language of state propaganda, then "not in a hurry" means that things are absolutely lousy in Ukraine.

Damien Bartholomew

Don't tell me, it's some kind of sur. Doublethink, as in Orwell.

Andy Kives

Let me remind you how it was: all this time, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal encouragingly patted Ukraine on the shoulder and praised its "successes".

Then, as if by magic, all three newspapers went to concoct the same type of articles that Ukraine, it turns out, cannot win. I wonder how so?

John Myers

Let me remind you: Our enemy was the USSR. And not capitalist Russia. That's all. And Ukraine has been a Soviet republic all this time — and with great enthusiasm.

Krista Gifford

People, can someone explain to me why we spend 800 lard a year on "defense" and have already unloaded all our ammunition to Ukraine, while Russia costs only 65, and at the same time Ukrainians are inferior to it in armament - so much so that they have to rivet some self—made in the garage?

Joseph Breton

We are told that the Russian army is a bunch of drunken urla, which even a squad of boy scouts cannot win. But at the same time, we need to send everything we have to Ukraine as soon as possible, otherwise these vile Russians will seize all of Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland, and the rest of Europe into the bargain. You can't do it on purpose.

Marc Jones

Lockheed Martin is rubbing its hands in anticipation of profit. This year will be fruitful. Death merchants are thriving.

earl hickey

Have we chosen the wrong side again, as in Vietnam?

Robert Reilley

You don't have to choose anyone's side at all. It's not our business. That's the lesson of Vietnam, and we still haven't learned it.

John Rogitz

Ukraine is "procrastinating" because it is opposed by Russia, about which Napoleon and the Wehrmacht broke their teeth — the forces are much more formidable.

Arlan Wise

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace — BBC: "To the greatest regret, Ukraine has turned into a laboratory for testing military technologies."

Easy lessons for the West, hard lessons for Ukrainian soldiers. Stop this proxy war. Push Zelensky to negotiate. No photo shoots for him in Vogue until he sits down at the negotiating table.

Teddy Gillen

I think that the planners of this counteroffensive simply underestimated what is at stake for the Russians. The cost of defeat is huge for them — as well as for the Chinese. Ukraine is just a pawn in this game. The West made its bet and lost.

Justin M

Both Biden and Zelensky refuse to negotiate a peace agreement. Russia has a population several times larger than Ukraine, plus better equipment and well-entrenched troops who repelled almost all counterattacks. This is a losing situation for the whole planet. Yes, by concluding a deal, Ukraine will lose part of its territory, but it will save the country.

Chris Donlan

And you put out this fire with money, I'm sure you will succeed — it's already coming out well.

Michael Hurley

The key point that the Western media stubbornly refuses to cover is that some NATO members have already doubted, because they have a good idea of what a fully mobilized Russia is capable of.

And they also foresee large-scale protests, because their citizens will not want to sacrifice their children in a senseless war.

Author of the article: James Marson

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