1. Do you believe Ukraine’s counteroffensive is underway? 

The counteroffensive is underway.  

Key indicators: 

  • The Ukrainian government has gone quiet and is making very few comments to prevent alerting the Russians to its strategy. 
  • President Zelenskyy’s pep talk to frontline troops on June 4. Many senior leaders provide this type of talk to their troops before battle. 
  • Frontline troops in contact. This is Ukrainian reconnaissance forces trying to find vulnerabilities in the Russian defense so that the Ukrainian army can exploit and attack through those locations. 
  • The new Ukrainian 47th Brigade that was sent to Germany to be issued with modern Western equipment and training has returned to Ukraine and is poised on the frontlines (Russian commanders say the unit is now engaged.)  This is the force that will see most of the action in the coming days given their equipment and training. 
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  1. Is it correct that some attacks are just to probe and other attacks are designed to break Russian lines? How does it work? 

 Yes, this is true. Ukraine is trying to destroy Russian supply lines, artillery, and command centers with their drones, artillery, and long-range fires to disrupt Russia’s logistics, communications, and Russia’s ability to fire artillery on Ukrainian forces during an attack.  Meanwhile, Ukrainian reconnaissance forces are conducting probing attacks as part of their reconnaissance efforts to find weak spots in Russia’s defense to exploit. 

  1. How can we judge its success or failure? 

If Ukraine is able to break through Russia’s elaborate defenses, defeat Russia’s dug-in forces, and hold the terrain they’ve captured, success will be met. 

  1. What difference does it make that almost all the reporting of events comes from Russian sources (since Ukraine is being very careful)? 

From a propaganda standpoint, Russia is trying to spin the narrative that they are winning.  If they can control the narrative on the counteroffensive fight, they will likely reassure the Russian population and their troops that victory is achievable.    

However, the Ukrainians will need to counter that narrative to keep Western capitals/NATO on their side.  In my view, Western support will begin to wane if the Ukrainians do not meet at least minimal success between now and the end of the year.  If there’s no success, look for some Western capitals to start talking about a negotiated settlement.

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Stephen Twitty is a Distinguished Fellow and a member of the International Leadership Council at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He is the founder of Twitty and Associates LLC. He has had a series of senior US Army command roles and received numerous awards, notably the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest award for valor, for gallantry in combat in Iraq. 

Europe’s Edge is CEPA’s online journal covering critical topics on the foreign policy docket across Europe and North America. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.

Europe's Edge
CEPA’s online journal covering critical topics on the foreign policy docket across Europe and North America.
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