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Ukraine’s counteroffensive (Sep 13, 2023)

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Over the past three weeks, Ukraine’s three-month counteroffensive breached the first of Russia’s defensive lines in the south, took the town of Robotyne, and made progress on the road to Tokmak, a key town in the direction of Melitopol. If Ukrainian forces can approach or go around Tokmak, they will be able to place under artillery fire the railroad on which Moscow relies to send military supplies to its troops in southern Ukraine including Crimea.

The evident, but still limited gains Ukraine has made in the south and around Bakhmut, where its columns are moving east both north and south of the city, have been notable in light of the fact that it has not received from the West the more advanced weapons on which our armed forces depend to conduct offensive operations. F-16s have now been promised, but only recently was permission granted to start training Ukrainian pilots, and the planes will only arrive next summer. And no decision has been taken to send Ukraine the longer-range missiles such as ATACMS.

Ukrainians remain resolute and popular support for the war effort remains high. In Russia, however, domestic stability has been called into question, as Wagner troops conducted their ill-fated mutiny and march toward Moscow in June. The long-term implications of those events and of the subsequent death of Wagner leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin on the effectiveness of Russian forces remain uncertain.

What is the current state of play on the battlefield? What does Ukraine need to do to take advantage of its gains? What can the West do to help Ukraine maintain its momentum through the rest of the year? What can observers expect next?

The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center gathers an expert panel to discuss these questions and more.



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