A new turning point in the War in Ukraine has taken place in recent days with the recapture of areas of major importance by the Ukrainian army. General Jean-Paul Perruche deciphers the situation and the current movements for the Dépêche du Midi.
The rout of Russian troops around Kharkiv, in north-eastern Ukraine, and kyiv’s counter-attack on the Kherson region in the south, vital for access to the Black Sea, are today a new major turning point in the war in Ukraine. The preamble to a Moscow debacle or an escalation of terror? The analysis of General Jean-Paul Perruche, former Director of the European Union General Staff.
La Dépêche du Midi: This counter-offensive on the regions of Kherson, in the south, and Kharkiv, in the northeast, is a new turning point, but beyond that, is it a “tipping point” of the war?
General Jean-Paul Perruche: This is the fourth major turning point since the beginning of the conflict. The Russian plan was to conquer kyiv in three days: it failed. Then there was the attempt at general encirclement: another failure and the second turning point. Moscow then concentrated on the Donbass. At the cost of considerable effort in terms of men and ammunition, Russia managed to conquer Severodonetsk and Lyssychansk in July. But the ensuing break showed the Russians running out of steam and their inability to take Kramatorsk and Sloviansk. However, while Moscow could neither replace its failing forces nor renew the destroyed equipment, the Ukrainians have increased in power – with fewer weapons, of course – but very superior technologically. Faced with the Russian “steamroller” which fires massively but with little precision, the Ukrainians then benefit, in this case, from the support of the NATO countries and the Ramstein group, both in terms of satellite intelligence and military training. and powerful armaments. They fire targeted shots, very, very destructive, on sensitive points, namely command posts, but also on all logistics, supply lines, equipment, ammunition, breaking up the Russian maneuver. This allowed this shift, indeed, this vast counter-offensive with its two counter-attacks, in the South and in the North, which have different but complementary objectives.
Could you be more precise ?
In the south, in the region of Kherson, a strategic access point to the Black Sea for the Ukrainians, it is a question of nibbling ground but we cannot go very quickly, given the density of Russian troops. Breaking through being impossible, kyiv therefore destroyed the logistical convoys, road junctions, bridges… in short, isolated the 15,000 to 20,000 men who had crossed the Dnieper to occupy its right bank. The ultimate goal is their surrender. While around Kharkiv, it is a question of exploiting in stride the zones where the Russians lightened their positions to reinforce the South. After having created a point of weakness around Kherson and thanks to the very very precise information provided by their services and their allies, the Ukrainians identified and exploited the fault, faster and more and stronger than they probably hoped , some Russian soldiers fleeing on bicycles, the others surrendering.
Can we speak of a “debacle”, in this case?
From a local stampede, rather. The attack took place over a little less than 100 kilometers on a global front of practically 2,500 kilometers, 1,500 of which were very active. We must therefore remain cautious, especially since the Russians are forced to react as we can see with the bombardment of the power stations around Kharkiv. They will certainly try to terrorize the Ukrainians a little more and try to regain the advantage locally, shoot at the reconquered areas, at the risk of shooting at their own troops since there is overlap.
Is this headlong rush towards terror, including nuclear, a growing risk?
I don’t really believe it. We are no longer in 1941 with Stalin and the mentalities of the Russians, and in particular of their soldiers, have evolved. The best Russian soldiers were crushed and I hardly see the relief troops, poorly trained and demotivated, being killed on the spot for “The Motherland”. Of course, the Russians also called in mercenaries, but if the mercenaries want to earn money, they don’t like to die either, in order to take advantage of their pay. As for Putin’s headlong rush with the use of weapons of mass destruction… I remain puzzled. Putin is not Hitler surrounded in his Berlin bunker in 1945. He knows very well that nuclear weapons are a gear that can lead to the vitrification of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. And in the Russian chain of command there is opposition to this option.
This Monday, Colonel Michel Goya considered that a resumption of the territory by the Ukrainians could no longer be ruled out. What do you think ?
I also think that we cannot exclude it, indeed. Because when demotivation and disorganization set in in an army, it is very difficult to stop it. We saw it in France, in 1940… Now, the crucial point of the coming weeks will be the preparation of winter for Ukraine: the constancy of the military support provided by the United States and its NATO allies will then be more vital than ever for kyiv.