Ukraine: May, the current situation on the frontline

By Oleg VERNIK, President, «Zahist Pratsi» Independent Trade Union – Ukrainian Socialist League

The Russian-Ukrainian front remains very relevant for the world progressive community and the world working class. Throughout 2022, the Ukrainian people and their army were able to repel the aggression of Russian Imperialism, drove the invaders out of central and northern Ukraine, liberated the Kharkiv region in the east, the city of Kherson in the south, and a significant part of the country.

However, the Russian occupation army continues to control significant territories, in southern and eastern Ukraine, seized at the beginning of the aggression in March 2022. In addition to the territory of Crimea and parts of Donbass, occupied in 2014-2015.

The current situation on the war front highlights the following: In April and May 2023, Russia continued its terrible rocket attacks on almost the entire Ukrainian territory. In May, in the capital city of Kyiv, it gets especially hard. Moreover, the utter senselessness of these barbaric attacks is obvious to everyone. If in winter the Russian military had hoped that attacks on Ukrainian power plants would lead to the total collapse of Ukrainians’ lives and their freezing in a cold winter, now this danger has disappeared. Rocket attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure only show the complete inadequacy and cruelty of the Russian military. These missile attacks do not affect the situation on the front in any way, but only harden peaceful Ukrainians and increase the overall resistance.

An important factor in this situation is the recent strengthening of the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces (Air Defense) by some types of modern Western systems: “Patriot”, “IRIS-T”, “NASAMS”. There are very few of them in Ukraine now, they can only partially cover several large cities and some military installations. Western imperialism was not in a hurry before and is not in a hurry now to provide Ukraine with the necessary amount of such modern means of defense against missile attacks. At the moment, it is known that only 2 Patriot complexes have been delivered to Ukraine, one of which is deployed to protect the sky over Kyiv. It was over it that a massive “hunt” was conducted on May 16 with the latest Russian hypersonic “Dagger” missiles, but suffered only minimally and returned to service a day later.

According to military analysts, Russia does not have many of the main “cruise missiles” Kh-101 and Kh-555. They are produced by Russian companies in an amount of no more than 25-30 missiles per month, and almost all of them immediately go to rocket attacks in Ukraine. Russia has very few modern hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, they are few in number and very expensive. Putin’s propaganda for a long time proclaimed its complete invulnerability, but already on the night of May 12, Ukrainian air defense forces managed to shoot down a “Dagger”. Its remains were shown to the press by the mayor of Kiev, former profesKyival boxing world champion Vitali KlKyivhko. However, Russia still has many very old Soviet Kh-22 ballistic missiles that have been out of production for a long time, but there are many in storage. These are terrible missiles that were created in the Soviet Union to destroy Western aircraft carriers, cruisers and naval destroyers. They have extremely inaccurate guidance when hit. The radius of inaccuracy reaches 700 meters. A large residential building in the city of Dnepr where many civilians were killed, has already become the victim of these monstrous ancient rockets.

The main topic in the world media for many months in a row has been the desperate and bloody battles for a small Ukrainian town in the Donetsk region – Bakhmut. It is a very small town and has no particular strategic importance, but Russian propaganda has exaggerated the significance of these battles. This was because, according to one of Putin’s latest versions, the “liberation of Donbass” is the key task of the so-called “special military operation”. And the town of Bakhmut opens the way for the Russian army to the last large Ukrainian cities in the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian army decided, in its turn, not to surrender Bakhmut without a fight, and bloody battles began.

The key role in the Russian army’s offensive in Bakhmut was played by the private military company Wagner, which was previously used by Russian imperialism in Central Africa and Syria. Wagner began participating in the war in March 2022. Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was for many years a person very close to Putin and for a long time received a privileged supply of ammunition, artillery and aircraft. In the early winter of 2022-2023, he promised Putin that he would soon take possession of Bakhmut. However, the battles for the city became fierce. Heroic resistance thwarted Putin and Prigozhin’s plans. In this situation, Prigozhin came into open conflict with the Russian army command and the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. He claimed that he was deliberately not being provided with the necessary amount of ammunition and, therefore, Wagner was suffering heavy losses in his unit. He issued ultimatums several times and threatened to withdraw his unit from Bakhmut in protest against his low ammunition supply. However, this was far from the truth. The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in February-March 2023 decided to provide supply to the Wagner group, as well as to all other units of the Russian army, without any privileges. From this arose this conflict, which was highly publicized in the world press.

It should be noted that the Wagner unit has about 4,000 fighters, and this is only 1% of the total number of Russian troops on the Ukrainian front. And the front line of 20-25 kilometers, which is held by the Wagner group, is only 1% of the length of the entire Russian-Ukrainian front. That is, we have a typical example of how the world media have formed an extremely distorted understanding of the situation on the front, paying special attention to a sector away from the main front, which is not and will never be of decisive importance for the future development of events on the front.

Captured Russian tank

At the moment, almost all of Bakhmut has been captured by the Russian army, but the Ukrainian army is actively trying to trap the Russian army, which is concentrated inside the city, from the north and south of the city. We will closely follow the development of the situation.

Of course, the hottest topic of the day is the long-announced global counteroffensive of the Ukrainian army. In early 2023, the world’s leading media announced the “spring counteroffensive” of the Ukrainian army, but now most analysts are already talking about the “summer counteroffensive”. Zelensky announced a pause with the start of the counteroffensive due to the still insufficient availability of Western weapons in the Ukrainian army. At first, it was about the absence of “medium-range” missiles (up to 300 kilometers) and modern military aviation. And if the UK partially solved the missile problem in connection with the supply of high-precision Storm Shadow missiles, then the question of the lack of modern military aviation in Ukraine remains open. Zelensky asks his “Western partners” to supply up to 100 units of US F -16 aircraft, and Joe Biden deliberately transfers this responsibility to European NATO countries. It goes without saying that a modern offensive in a wide theater of operations is impossible without the support of military aviation. In conditions of total absence of strategic and front-line aviation, it is extremely difficult to count on the success of the counteroffensive. In any case, a counteroffensive without air support will be accompanied by a large number of casualties for the advancing Ukrainian army. Just the other day, information appeared that several Western countries are ready to start training Ukrainian pilots on F -16 aircraft, and the delivery of these aircraft to Ukraine is possible only in late summer and early autumn. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the Ukrainian army can afford to postpone the counteroffensive until the end of the summer, as there will be only 1-2 months left before the onset of the rainy season and the lack of good roads for the movement of troops and equipment due to this.

According to military analysts, Ukraine has already prepared 9 to 12 brigades for the offensive, which means approximately up to 40,000 fighters. Many of them have been trained in NATO countries. According to military experts, the total amount of equipment needed for 9 brigades is 253 tanks, 381 infantry fighting vehicles, 480 vehicles, 147 artillery pieces, as well as 571 US HMMWV armored vehicles. It is difficult to say whether this is already in the Ukrainian army or not, as these data only indicate the military resources necessary for a successful counteroffensive.

Ukrainian soldiers helping with evacuation tasks.

Three activists of the Ukrainian Socialist League are now in the army and are preparing to participate in a future counter-offensive and liberation of the occupied territories of Ukraine. We are very worried about them. All the Ukrainian people and their working class desire the early liberation of our land and the expulsion of the Russian imperialist aggressor. After our victory over the external enemy, we have ahead of us a hard class struggle against the internal enemy: the Ukrainian oligarchic bourgeoisie. And this is precisely our struggle and our responsibility: the responsibility of the Ukrainian working class, and not of the Russian imperialist occupiers. To victory, comrades!