Is Ukraine’s counter-offensive over?


THE UKRAINE WAR is at a stalemate. Normal Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, acknowledged so himself in a recent interview with The Economist. The long-awaited counter-offensive, which started in earnest on June 4th, has fizzled, with few territorial features or losses on both aspect. Under are two charts and a map that assist clarify the most recent developments.

Our first chart is from The Economist’s war tracker, which makes use of satellite tv for pc knowledge to watch war-related exercise. We monitor fires detected by FIRMS, a system initially arrange by NASA to detect wildfires. Our machine-learning mannequin then estimates which of those are brought on by the battle (from explosives, say). The system may be hindered by a spread of things, together with climate circumstances and incorrect labelling by our mannequin. However over a protracted interval it will probably systematically hint patterns within the combating.

The mannequin appropriately picked up the operations in late May that laid the groundwork for the following push in June. By mid-August practically a thousand war-related fires have been detected day by day, as Ukrainian forces fought their approach south in direction of Russia’s major line of defense in Zaporizhia oblast, ultimately liberating Robotyne on August twenty eighth. Since October thirteenth, nonetheless, we now have detected fewer than 300 strikes on days with comparatively clear skies, suggesting a slowdown.

Our second chart exhibits how a lot territory has modified arms. Utilizing repeatedly up to date maps from the Institute for the Research of Battle (ISW), a think-tank, we are able to calculate how a lot of Ukraine has been taken or misplaced by Russia because the begin of the struggle in 2022. ISW’s maps use open sources, resembling footage and satellite tv for pc imagery to evaluate areas of management. The info present the large features by Russia within the early days of combating, adopted by vital losses as Ukraine mounted its spectacular defence. Throughout Ukraine’s counter-offensive final autumn Russia misplaced 13% of the land it occupied. By comparability, the counter-offensive this 12 months has led to nearly no lasting features by Ukraine since June 4th.

Our map exhibits the place the present combating is happening. The axis within the south contains Robotyne and a push in direction of town of Tokmak, which one Ukrainian common described because the “minimal objective” for the offensive. Ukrainian officers say that as a result of they’re conducting small-unit assaults on foot, reasonably than massive armoured thrusts, they will maintain attacking at the same time as winter softens up the bottom. However ammunition stays a constraint, and the discount in fires means that shells could also be turning into scarce simply as North Korean shells start flowing to Russia at scale.

One other space of heavy combating is in Avdiivka, close to Donetsk metropolis, the place Russian forces try—and failing—to take a closely fortified city that they encompass on three sides. A 3rd space of combating is to the east of Kherson metropolis, the place Ukrainian forces in current weeks have managed to determine and maintain a beach-head on the south aspect of the Dnipro—a tactical victory that has enabled them to funnel heavy gear throughout the river.

To the Ukrainians’ credit score, in transferring slowly they’ve most likely prevented the big losses suffered by Russian forces. Ukrainians have proven that, with assist from the West, they will put up a troublesome struggle. That struggle continues: our knowledge counsel that the counter-offensive’s massive push is over, not that the struggle is. Ukraine’s companions ought to plan for a long fight.

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