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Serhiy Hrabsky: It would be beneficial for the russians, if we got involved in street fighting in Kherson

10/28/2022 01:06:31 pm
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While russian troops are being defeated at the front, the leadership of the russian federation has taken up its old ways and yet again accused Ukraine of developing a "dirty bomb". No evidence, except for loud statements, was provided. According to the russian side, Ukraine is allegedly preparing a "dirty bomb" attack on its territory in order to blame russia for it.

The Ukrainian leadership categorically denies such accusations. As Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov noted, such actions should be expected from russia, the "liar, liar, pants on fire".

"The lie about the "dirty bomb" that Ukraine is allegedly preparing to use is an element of the kremlin's already familiar tactics. When the russian criminals try to preemptively blame the victim of aggression for their crime", - the minister said.

At the same time, the occupation authorities announced an evacuation in Kherson and are taking locals from the right Dnipro River bank to the left one. Some military experts say that the russians are preparing for another "goodwill gesture", others warn about a trap for the AFU and strengthening the enemy’s defense.

We discussed all these topics with reserve AFU colonel and military expert Serhiy Hrabsky.


- These past several days, russia has been saying that Ukraine is allegedly preparing "dirty bomb" provocations. What do you think is the cause of these statements?

- I think that this activity is connected to panic and russia’s attempt to create any conditions that would distract the domestic audience and the world community from problems at the front. The russians understand that they cannot achieve any advantages there, which is why they are trying to create some kind of informational distraction in order to reduce the negative impact of what is happening at the front.

We must be aware that, from the point of view of common sense, Ukraine can in no way organize such an action. But at the same time, this may be a reason for russia to carry out such an action and blame Ukraine for it.

However, they faced rejection of these accusations by Ukraine’s international allies. And I think that they will gradually abandon this idea. It is absolutely unrealistic, and it is difficult to say why they resorted to such accusations. Although from the "informational noise" point of view, this may make sense, because now everyone is talking about it.

- Does it mean that we are on the verge of powerful provocations from russia?

- We are always on the verge of some provocations, and russia can always generate them. But we are not some kind of a helpless victim, we are actively refuting these statements and working to ensure that such provocations do not occur. It is a mistake to think that Ukraine only waits and does not take any steps to prevent such provocations. After all, such a massive and consolidated reaction to these statements with the involvement of our Western partners is evidence that Ukraine is actively defending itself on the information and psychological front. And it does it pretty well.

- Don’t you consider this to be a preparation for the use of nuclear weapons by russia for an alleged preventive strike?

- No. This provocation is so primitive that even those who created it do not realize what it is about. The use of nuclear weapons is a completely different factor. Since the beginning of the nuclear era, the world community has created a fairly powerful mechanism for monitoring and controlling all nuclear facilities. And the information that constantly comes from official US sources is more important for me. Nowadays they say that they do not observe any activity indicating preparations for the use of russian nuclear weapons.

On the contrary, this is evidence of their weakness. Yes, they are talking about this "dirty bomb", but how can they substantiate their accusations? There is absolutely no logic there. The logical question would be: why does Ukraine need this? We have clearly declared our goal - the liberation of all Ukrainian territories. Why should Ukraine pollute its own territories when it sacrifices the lives of its soldiers to liberate them?

- According to the russians, Ukraine is allegedly preparing a "dirty bomb" strike on its territory in order to blame the russian federation for this.

- Even if we theoretically imagine that we have planned this, the results of such a provocation look meager compared to the negative impact that will arise. This is a primitive delusional idea, the product of a sick imagination and nothing more. Yes, the russians themselves can do this, they have such opportunities. But they have been informed more than once through unofficial channels about the extremely negative consequences, if there is even an attempt to use nuclear weapons.

- Can the russians cover up their inevitable withdrawal from Kherson in this way?

- Yes, it may be one of the reasons. They want to divert attention from failures at the front in this way in general.

- In your opinion, is it possible to expect a "goodwill gesture" from the russians, or will they hold on to Kherson to the bitter end?

- For us, getting involved in street fighting in Kherson would be the most unsuccessful tactic, because it requires enormous resources. Ukraine should not do this. Moreover, it would be beneficial for the russians, if we got involved in street fighting in Kherson.

- Why?

- Because in this way, they will buy time, exhaust our resources and create the prerequisites for a counteroffensive. Let’s not forget that according to official data, partial mobilization in russia has ended, so in a few weeks, we can expect the arrival of new units that can strengthen the ability of the occupiers to fight. This is an objective reality. We can read dozens of articles and watch many videos that show problems with their staffing, but we must understand that they will arrive at the frontline and create some problems.

It can be assumed that the russians are trying to bait us by creating a false impression that they are fleeing from Kherson and thus forcing us to enter the city. But according to some information, they are preparing for defense there. However, the russian army has no experience in conducting such defensive operations in cities. The last time the Soviet Union did this was in Stalingrad. The russian army has no such experience. It has experience in sieging and destroying large cities, but defense is a slightly different philosophy of war, and they have a problem with that.

Therefore, we will see how the situation will unfold. Of course, the liberation of the Dnipro River right bank, including Kherson, is a strategic task for the AFU, but we will see how this will be achieved.

- Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kyrylo Budanov believes that the AFU will be able to liberate Kherson by the end of this year. Do you share such a rather optimistic opinion?

- Yes, absolutely, if we are talking exclusively about Kherson and the right bank of the Dnipro.

- Head of the Luhansk Oblast Civil-Military Administration Serhiy Haidai stated that rainy weather slows down the AFU’s offensive in the Luhansk oblast. Is it true?

- Not really. Nature, of course, plays its role in the 21st century war, but it is not such an important factor as to slow down an organized offensive. We must understand that the enemy is also desperately trying to hold back our advance by counterattacking constantly. The russian troops are aware that if they do not hold their positions on the Troitske-Svatove-Kreminna direction, then in fact, they will no longer be able to keep the northern Luhansk oblast under their control.

- Why is it such an important sector of the front?

- In the event of reaching these positions, the Ukrainian army will control the road to Starobilsk and access to other areas. Luhansk is not far as well. The area allows it. But we must understand that the enemy is able to deploy even unprepared conscript units in order to contain our offensive there.

- So the weather has nothing to do with it?

- The rainy weather affects the offensive and the defensive equally. It is difficult to defend anything while standing knee-deep in water in the trenches and having problems with logistics. The weather works both against us and against the enemy, both for us and for the enemy.

- Is the Ukrainian counteroffensive still going on or has it stopped?

- Our counteroffensive continues, it just has phases of active and preparatory actions. Do you know what is most important in the offensive? It is to stop in time. Because you can get ahead in such a way that later, you will not be able to hold your positions. Just like when the russians were actively breaking through towards Kyiv, and even reached Brovary and Bucha, but could not hold these positions.

That’s why we don’t have to rush. Of course, when we do not see any results, we begin to worry about the counteroffensive. But the offensive is a thoughtful and very complex process, where haste is quite a big problem.

- Does the mobilization in the russian federation slow down the Ukrainian counteroffensive?

- For sure. Under certain conditions, the number determines the course of hostilities. To say that russian mobilization does nothing to slow down our counteroffensive would be a lie. It makes a difference whether the unit has 20 or 100 military personnel. That is, the appropriate resources need to be concentrated in order to defeat them. Their motivation is not important, the enemy must be destroyed. Relatively speaking, for a unit of 20 people, we must use 300 bullets, and for a unit of 100 people - at least 1000. These are completely different indicators.

The russian federation is already using the conscripts in the fighting, and this also slows down our counteroffensive. We must understand that today russia, both offensively and defensively, has the ability to throw "cannon fodder" at us without worrying about their preparation at all.

- How do you assess the situation in the Donetsk direction? Recently, information has appeared about the AFU successes in the Bakhmut area.

- Yes, there is such information, but we need to wait for official confirmation from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The enemy has been desperately trying to break through our defenses in the Bakhmut area for several months now. And it is wrong to say that this is not possible at all, they spend enormous human and material resources on this.

- Can an increase in the number of russian military personnel turn the tide in this direction?

- An increase in the number of russian troops can solve this issue, but not radically. A certain number is able to break through without changing tactics and not using other methods of warfare (mobile, intellectual), but using only traditional offensive methods like artillery and other methods of destruction. However, it will cost them very significant losses. A big and controversial question is what they will be capable of afterwards.

- There is an opinion that russia is withdrawing the most combat-ready units from the Kherson direction and can transfer them to Belarus to open a new front. How real is this danger?

- There is such a possibility. But it should be understood that the Belarusian front can hardly be considered as a strategic direction.

- Why?

- Even in terms of geography and terrain. Of course, the most combat-ready units can be transferred to Belarus, but what will happen next? How will they leave? If we are talking about the threat to the western oblasts, there are mainly swamps and forests there. Tanks have not yet learned to swim in swamps.

- Is it possible that they may not set a goal to seize Kyiv or other cities, but to divert our forces?

- Then a logical question arises: why transfer the most combat-ready units for this? The Belarusian and russian units that are already there are enough to create provocative and demonstrative actions. They can create similar tension as in the Chernihiv and Sumy oblasts, where we are forced to keep our units in order to prevent serious breakthroughs. The same situation will be in Belarus.

- Don’t you believe in a forced march from the territory of Belarus?

- This is already technically impossible. And they understand it. Physical pain reflexes are very sensitive, so I doubt that they will soon risk an offensive from the territory of Belarus.

- And after some time?

- After a while, when they concentrate there, gather a lot of personnel and equipment, they can try to do it. Nobody canceled the strategic task of destroying Ukraine as a country and an independent nation. Everything is possible. But in order to do that, they need resources and opportunities.

- Which they don’t have.

- That’s right. But only as of now.

- Why has putin failed to persuade Lukashenko to fully involve the Belarusian army in the war?

- For putin, it is obvious that the Belarusian army, unlike the russian and Ukrainian ones, has no combat experience. It is conditionally combat-ready. The army cannot be regarded as a combat-ready mechanism capable of active actions without any practical experience. In addition, the number of the entire Belarusian army is 65 thousand people, including orchestras, dance ensembles, rear formations, etc. In fact, we are talking about 15-25 thousand conditionally active soldiers. What can they change today? In addition, thanks to corruption, the russians and Belarusians destroyed the mobilization deployment base, they did not prepare for such a war. Even to create a regional grouping of troops, only less than 5 thousand russian military arrived in Belarus, although they have been preparing for this for a long time.

- That is, you consider the threats from Belarus only as an information-psychological war?

- No, there is a real threat from Belarus. Since May, there has been a process of deliberate preparation of aggression against Ukraine. The fact that it is not going at the pace and the scenario they want is another matter. We should not relax and think that there will be no "treachery" from Belarus.

We consider these questions from the point of view of common sense. But there is still some crazy logic that exists in the heads of the kremlin leaders, and we cannot dismiss the possibility of the Belarusian army involvement. It does not have to be a deep breakthrough into the territory of Ukraine. Creating a threat of invasion with their provocative and demonstrative actions will be enough. Even so, they will seriously divert our limited resources. This is a type of military action, when the enemy simply distracts us and does not allow us to focus on other important areas.

- Given the missile strikes from the territory of Belarus, the question arises why Ukraine does not retaliate? Some "incidents" happen even in russia, but nothing happens in Belarus.

- If we start to strike at the territory of Belarus, this will lead to the fact that Lukashenko will announce mobilization, and the local population will support him in this. After the destruction of some tactical targets, we will get the enemy grouping of troops on the northern border, and we will be forced to send a large number of Ukrainian troops there. Is it possible to compare such actions with the following consequences? By destroying certain facilities on the territory of Belarus, we will at the very least get a cold war in the north. It will require more resources, which we already lack.

- Will we be able to assault, if strike forces are formed on the territory of Belarus?

- Of course, this is possible. Preventive strikes can be launched, if it becomes obvious that an offensive force is being formed on the territory of Belarus.

Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV