How the international media covered the Russo-Ukrainian war, September 3

Anton Semyzhenko

Dozens of foreign media have prepared analytical articles about the first week of Ukraineʼs counterinsurgency in the Kherson region. Journalists and analysts are interested in why the offensive began right now, and why, after news of several liberated villages, reports from the front about the advance of Ukrainian troops stopped, and in general, what are Kyivʼs chances of liberating the right bank of the Kherson region from the Russians.

The Canadian publication Global News is trying to explain to its readers why Ukraine chose such a time and place for a counterattack. There are three reasons for timing. The first is the need to demonstrate to the West the success in using the provided weapons and convince them to continue supporting Ukraine. The second is to manage to win back as much territory as possible before the onset of cold weather. The third relates specifically to the moment of the start of the offensive: with the actual removal of Sergei Shoigu, the Russian army feels a power vacuum, so it may be less effective than usual. The choice of the place is explained by the fact that it is relatively easiest to stop the supply of weapons and manpower of the occupiers to the right bank of the Kherson region. The fact that the liberation of Kherson would be significant, because it is perhaps the greatest achievement of the Russians in this war. And also due to the fact that Kherson region is in the immediate vicinity of Crimea, so the offensive would give a signal to the occupiers on the peninsula that they are already approaching them. “[This counteroffensive ― ] is everything for Kyiv,” dramatically says Andrew Rasoulis, a defense expert at the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs. ― Ukraineʼs current political goal is to expel Russian troops from the entire occupied territory of Ukraine. This can only happen through a large-scale counteroffensive. Therefore, this first stage is critically important."

However, most publications in their materials ― Politico, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal in a long analytical article ― prepare readers that there will be no blitzkrieg of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Kherson region. For this, Ukraine does not have enough resources, and the priority is not the same, because Kyiv seeks to preserve as much infrastructure as possible on its lands and, in particular, to prevent the destruction of Kherson. Therefore, the tactic is the gradual exhaustion of the enemy through the destruction of his bases and logistical routes. Therefore, immediately the troops may not actively advance forward. "Perhaps we will witness dozens of small battles instead of one battle," writes The Wall Street Journal. The ideal scenario for Ukraine would be to exsanguinate the 20,000-strong Russian contingent around and in Kherson to such an extent that the Russians would simply make another "gesture of goodwill" and flee from there. According to the authors of the Politico article, Ukraine needs anti-aircraft weapons for this, because due to the elimination of land routes, Russia is trying to transfer weapons and troops to the right bank of the Kherson region by airplanes and, especially, by helicopters. At this stage, the ground offensive of the Ukrainian military, according to the NYT, stopped at the second line of defense of the Russians: it is much better equipped by the occupiers than the first line, which was overcome in several places.

Even if the "fog of war" doesnʼt make it clear at the moment how successful Ukraine is in its first major counteroffensive operation, everything is clear in the long run, writes The Washington Post columnist David von Drehle. Namely, Putin and the Russian people will lose in the war. For example, because, according to the forecast of meteorologists, there will not be a severe winter, which Putin hopes for, referring to the frost factor in Russiaʼs wars against Napoleon and Hitler, this year. The Russians are steadily running out of weapons and money, and the level of motivation of the military is at a consistently low level. If, thanks to the warm winter, Germany does not need a lot of gas and does not make political concessions to Putin, there is every chance that "Putin wonʼt be left with more than he had before the invasion." "If the weather gods smile on freedom, and the Germans stand firm, Ukrainian fighters will definitely crush Putinʼs army thanks to bottomless supplies of Western weapons and shells," the author concludes. ― Pity the Russians: they are a wonderful people with a beautiful culture. However, he has an Achillesʼ heel: for one reason or a number of reasons, Russians are unable to produce wise rulers."