Ukrainian forces go on offense

By Reagan Oliver, Guest Writer

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken new turns as Russia faces challenges due to Ukraine’s increased counterattacks.

The war in Ukraine in recent weeks has been focused on the battle over the Ukrainian city of Soledar.

Despite the recent claim from Russian officials regarding gaining control of Soledar after invading the city in August, Russian forces maintained their dominance until recently, as Ukrainian forces started to launch counterattacks against Russian forces.

Experts believe that gaining control of the city does not advantage to the Russian forces except to allow them to focus on the neighboring city of Bakhmut. 

“Even taking the most generous Russian claims at face value, the capture of Soledar would not portend an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut. Control of Soledar will not necessarily allow Russian forces to exert control over critical Ukrainian ground lines of communication into Bakhmut,” The Institute for the Study of War said.

Ukraine’s defense ministry tweeted last Tuesday, alluding that the battle in Soledar is still underway and Russian forces had failed to gain control of Soledar. 

Photo courtesy of New York Post

Ukrainian forces have begun to launch counterattacks as Russian forces have gained control of the city of Soledar, a salt mining town in Eastern Ukraine. President Putin has made leadership changes in response.

“Even after suffering colossal losses, Russia is still maniacally trying to seize Soledar — home to the largest salt mine in Europe,” the tweet reads.

The intensity of the battles taking place has been compared to the intensity of the battles during the peak of World War II. 

The Ukrainian gain of power in Soledar directly results from the support the country has received from its neighboring allies. 

Last week, Polish President Andrzej Duda sent Leopard tanks to aid Ukraine, and Spain’s military forces received 255 Ukrainian Air Force Troops for training. Mykhaylo Podolyak, a Ukrainian presidential advisor, claims that aid from Western countries will allow Ukraine to win the war in 2023.

“Only missiles with a range of more than 100 kilometers will allow us to significantly accelerate the de-occupation of our territories,” Podolyak said, alluding to the low-range missiles the U.S. had provided the country a few months ago. 

In response to the fade of Russian power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed a new military commander. Valery Gerasimov took over the responsibilities of military commander last Wednesday, after previous commander Sergey Surovikin held the position for roughly three months.

The switch to Gerasimov is a decision military analyst Dara Massicot was surprised to hear. 

In her opinion, the rise in command of Gerasimov was an incompetent move for Putin due to Gerasimov’s leading role in a failed plan of the campaign that led to massive Russian casualties. 

“I don’t think this is intended to create a pretext to sack him as the war is too important, and Putin can sack who he wants. But he needs some kind of win or a career ends in ignominy,” Massicot said, referencing the role she believes Gerasimov is playing: Putin’s “fall man.” 

Dwindling amounts of resources, unstable internal leadership and increased casualties of Russia have all contributed to stronger Ukrainian efforts.