Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Will there be a Spring Offensive in Ukraine?

Ukrainian social media in the past few weeks has hyped a potential offensive this spring against Russian forces in the east, implying a push toward annexed Crimea. Past offensives last year implied a push toward the city of Kherson in their buildup, but Ukrainian forces instead advanced on northern cities and made large territorial gains. It wasn't until later that Ukrainian forces pushed into Kherson and retook the major city. This feint maneuver was likely key to their success, but it is unclear whether this tactic will work again.

Recapture of Crimea has been a goal since its annexation by Russia in 2014. Although Ukraine has imported a large amount of weapons and improved their military greatly since then, the Crimean peninsula is a very difficult land mass to attack. Connected to mainland Ukraine by a loose land bridge, Russia has had years to reinforce the region as a launching point for the invasion in 2022. Thus, it is more likely that the hype is a feint once again. This might be done to decrease Russian presence in the contested city of Bakhmut, or to again strike in the northern Luhansk region. 

There is a possibility, however, that there will no longer be a spring offensive as planned. Given the tactic's success last year, Russia may now be less vulnerable to a feint maneuver. Furthermore, the recent classified intelligence leaks cast doubt on a potential offensive and have caused the Ukrainian government to alter its plans.

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