Ukraine’s army has gone over to the offensive.  The reason is probably twofold.

First, in spite of repeated media reports that Kyiv faced an “imminent” assault by 40-mile long convoy of Russian vehicles, it has barely moved.  It appears the Russian units in the north have reached the limits of their supply capabilities which is the perfect time for a counterattack when your enemy is short on food, fuel, and ammo and can’t resupply or reenforce his units.

Secondly, weapons arriving from the West have supplied Ukraine’s armed forces to the point where they have sufficient stockpiles of ammunition, food, and fuel to begin offensive operations.  So far, Ukraine has been very successful in picking the fights it can win by ambushing Russian armored columns stuck on the roads or blocking under-strength Russian units from entering its urban centers. Now that it is going over to the offensive it is attacking Russian formations in battalion-sized units and casualties will mount on both sides exponentially.  UKR Ministry of Defense reports is forces massed in Kyiv are attacking outward to the North West, North and East of the city and have had some success pushing back the Russian army.  Ukraine’s own supply problems are eased by their shorter lines of supply, the cooperation of the native population, and the inability of the Russian air force to gain control over the skies.

This is unconfirmed but in the last 24 hours, Russian units outside Kyiv may have been driven back 30 to 40 miles from the capital taking heavy losses in the route of their forces.  The  Russian 331 Guards Airborne Brigade may have been all but annihilated in the fighting. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but a Russian airborne brigade would have 3,000-5,000 troops at full strength and if reports are accurate, the loss of an entire brigade would be a devastating loss.  It is not known whether the 331 VDV was at full strength or already depleted by losses.

In the South near Crimea, Ukraine’s forces are trying to wrest control of Kershon away from Russian forces which occupied the city early in the invasion. Of critical importance is retaking the airfield used by Russian air force helicopters and ground-attack aircraft. The loss of Kershon’s airport would add to the already severe supply problems the Russians are having and eliminate Russian helicopter gunships from the battlespace.

Screen capture from Skynews video.

Russian forces are at a severe disadvantage in this fight as they are mostly mechanized units rather than “leg” infantry fighting on foot.  Coming out of winter, Ukraine’s otherwise fine and flat terrain for maneuver warfare fought by tracked vehicles is turning to deep mud. As a result, Russia’s tanks are stuck on the roads where they cannot bring their considerable firepower to bear on a target on a broad front.  Their attached mechanized infantry riding in armored fighting vehicles are also at a disadvantage when fighting infantry.  Their training doctrine requires that when they dismount to fight, they stay close to their ‘track,’ generally within 50-100 yards which prevents them from maneuvering on foot to pursue Ukrainian infantry which is able to strike at their column with anti-tank weapons nearly 3 miles away and then move again to another position further up the road for a new ambush.

It should be remembered that Ukraine’s tanks and armored fighting vehicles will have the same mud problems the Russians are having as soon as they leave the roads  Ideally, Ukraine would use infantry(which can slog through mud) to envelope immobilized Russian units and cut off their retreat, forcing their surrender or face being destroyed completely.  We would not expect Russian combat units to surrender(Russian troops are capable of hopeless bravery), but attempts to fight their way out with some troops slipping away at night to give themselves up.

Using infantry will make the going slower for Ukraine’s offensive, but they will be more mobile than you might imagine.