Easier for Ukraine to liberate Crimea than Donbas, veteran commander says
Ukrainian soldier at the front near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, April 12, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Oleksandr Klymenko)
Given the difficulty with which Russian forces are having to fight over Bakhmut over the past seven months, Ukrainian troops might ultimately liberate occupied Crimea before reclaiming Donbas, scientist and former company commander with Ukraine’s Aidar Battalion, Yevhen Dykyi, said in an interview with NV Radio on April 13.
In 2014, Dykyi commanded Aidar’s 2nd Company. Since 2018, he heads Ukraine’s National Antarctic Research Center, being an accomplished scientist and holding a PhD in ecology.
“First of all, we must understand it won’t be easy: we shouldn’t expect Donbas to crumble as easily as Kharkiv Oblast did last fall (during Ukraine’s Kharkiv counteroffensive),” said Dykyi.
“Speaking in strictly military sense, liberating Crimea is much simpler task than liberating Donbas. I won’t be surprised if take Sevastopol before Donetsk. It could all turn out the other way, but I hope we won’t repeat the mistakes (Russians) made last year and are making now.”
Commenting on the ongoing brutal fight over Bakhmut, Dykyi said he expects Kyiv to employ a different approach when it comes to liberating occupied Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
“I very much hope we won’t be assaulting Donbas head-on, like they are doing right now,” he adds.
“Those should be wide operations to surround (the enemy), avoiding close-quarters combat in industrialized urban areas and fighting over every meter – as (the Russians) have been doing in recent months. In that sense, our operation to liberate Donbas will not mirror (the Russian advance), that it will be organized in a completely different fashion.”
To pull off such a maneuver and surround Russian troops in Donbas, Dykyi said Ukraine might even have to cross into Russia proper.
“As I said, the only viable options are deep operations to envelop (the enemy), maybe even cutting through Russian territory,” he concludes.
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