Ukrainian troops can go to the fourth stage of the counteroffensive, which will take place in the Zaporozhye region. Forbes writes about this.
December 9, Russian and Ukrainian troops exchanged artillery shots in the area of the settlements of Huliaipole and Pologa in the Zaporozhye region, more than 100 kilometers northeast of Russian-occupied Melitopol. According to Russian sources, the Ukrainian army is concentrating mechanized forces around Huliaipole.
The publication notes that if this is true, then this may be a sign that the fourth counter-offensive of the Ukrainian army may be inevitable, despite the onset of winter. As part of this counter-offensive, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will have to liberate most of southern Ukraine and push Russian troops back to a narrow stretch of land connecting mainland Ukraine with the Crimean peninsula.
At the same time, it was noted that to date, none of the parties has a sufficient number of troops in the Zaporozhye region. So, in the area along the axis of Gulyaipole – Pologi since the spring there are separate Russian and Ukrainian units up to the size of a brigade. On the Russian side is the 291st Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment, which on paper has several thousand soldiers and dozens of armored vehicles. On the Ukrainian side is the 106th Territorial Defense Brigade, a poorly equipped formation with several thousand local volunteers. The territorial brigade is reinforced by the 19th separate rifle battalion (400 soldiers of the active army).
«It may take more than a couple of heavy brigades to attack Melitopol. Ukraine's previous counter-offensives—around Kiev in March, and then around Kharkov and Kherson six months later—each involved at least half a dozen heavy brigades»,— the article says.
War undermines Putin's geopolitical campaigns
In turn, the American Institute for the Study of War reports that Russia's war against Ukraine is likely to continue to undermine Russian President Vladimir Putin's geopolitical campaigns around the world. Analysts note that the Russian dictator is unwilling to sacrifice his geopolitical initiatives in the short term and risks financial difficulties in which he will not be able to balance his aggressive goals in Ukraine with his power projection campaigns.
In particular, he continues attempts to restore Russia's position in Central Asia, unsuccessfully proposing a tripartite alliance between Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The behavior has already upset some military bloggers, who have criticized the Kremlin for allegedly allocating nearly six billion rubles (about $95.5 million) to develop Russian-language schools in Tajikistan without keeping Russian troops on the battlefield.
In addition, the bloggers added that the Kremlin is inefficiently using its «soft power» in Tajikistan, further calling into question the need for such expenditures.