SLOVIANSK, Ukraine — At one point on the front line, Ukrainian soldiers advanced by creeping on their bellies 50 yards at a time, digging new trenches at every stop. Elsewhere, soldiers with the 93rd Brigade captured about three miles of wheat fields — and a Russian tank. Another unit liberated a village last week.
Out on the rolling plains of eastern Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, soldiers and commanders are pointing to these modest gains as a measurable result of Ukraine’s strategy of publicly, and frequently, making its intentions known to attack Russian forces along another front: southern Ukraine.
The Russian Army, Ukrainian officials and Western analysts say, has been diverting soldiers to the south to meet a potential offensive — allowing Ukraine to regain slivers of land in the east.
strike with precision far behind Russian lines.
making a difference, but with everything in this war, much remains opaque: Rumors run rampant, propaganda is pervasive, and both Ukraine and Russia are quick to tout advanced weapons — like the HIMARS — while keeping operational details secret.
Some analysts say Russia’s slowdown in the east has less to do with splitting its attention or Ukraine’s weapons than with a need to rebuild and redeploy its battered forces.
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The Pentagon highlighted that problem in a news briefing on Monday, where Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy, estimated that 70,000 to 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded since the invasion began, a staggering loss that exceeds the official U.S. military casualty counts in the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.