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Brian Berletic

Dec 24, 2023

Why Ukraine Won’t Be Able to “Dig In”

- After the defeated 5 month Ukrainian offensive and with admissions in the Western media that Ukraine’s cross-river offensive in Kherson is a failure, a growing number Ukrainian and Western military and political leaders are talking about Ukraine going on the defensive;

- Ukraine seeks to build Russian-style defensives along the line of contact and use 2024 to build up combat power;

- The main problem facing this strategy is that Ukraine has already in many places dug in since as early as 2014 and yet Russia has been able to overpower and displace Ukrainian forces regardless;

- Russia’s successful defeat of the 2023 Ukrainian offensive was owed as much to its superior firepower as it was to the construction of defensive positions;

- While Russia will not be able to conduct “big arrow” offensives without suffering heavy losses for the same reason Ukraine cannot, the existence of mines covered by artillery, FPV drones and other systems that can target Russian forces as they attempt to breach minefields;

- Russia can continue its war of attrition while placing growing pressure all along the line of contact and exploiting anywhere opportunities begin to form;

- Western commentators continue to interpret the conflict in mere 2 dimensions rather than the 4 dimensions actually required to understand Russia’s long-term strategy and why it has worked;

- The 4th dimension being time, it is important to understand what Ukraine’s combat power will look like a year from now following concerted Russian efforts to target and irreversibly diminish specific capabilities (like air defense, artillery, counter battery fire, and military aviation);


The Foundation for Defense of Democracies - Zelenskyy Orders Ukrainian Forces to Dig In (December 5, 2023): BBC - Ukraine war: Satellite images reveal Russian defences before major assault (May 2023): NYT - Defenses Carved Into the Earth (December 2022): Guardian - ‘We will stand until the end’: Ukrainian defenders of Avdiivka hold on – for now (December 14, 2023): Business Insider - Ukraine says Russia has it outgunned 7 to 1 when it comes to drones (December 2023):

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