Behind Ukraine’s sudden counterattack / Sino-Russian Strategic Security Dialogue

The brain behind Ukraine's sudden counterattack

The brain behind Ukraine’s sudden counterattack

Sino-Russian Strategic Security Dialogue – Russia has recently repeatedly praised China’s “balanced attitude.”

Observers believe that with his vision and ability to mobilize troops, General Syrsky contributed significantly to the initial successes of the counterattack.

However, they warned that this is not a turning point that could change the battlefield and that Russia still holds many advantages in the east and south.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 16 that the military operation in Donbass would continue, despite Ukraine’s attempts to counterattack.

“Russia is advancing slowly, but systematically and gradually controlling more parts of its territory,” Putin said. “We’re not going to war with the whole army, we’re just sending a part there.”

While General Oleksandr Syrsky proposed a plan to launch a surprise counterattack on Kharkov, which he saw as a weak link in the Russian line.

Ukraine’s Military General Staff said earlier this week that commanders involved in designing the blitzkrieg in Kharkov Oblast included armed forces commander Valery Zaluzhny, chief of staff Serhiy Shaptala, eastern line commander Oleksandr Syrsky, southern line commander Andriy Kovalchuk and Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar.

However, Ukrainian experts and media said that the “chief architect” of the counterattack was General Syrsky.

When the town of Batakliya in Kharkov was liberated in the middle of last week, Syrsky presided over the flag-raising ceremony in front of the city hall, marking the completion of the task of controlling Russian forces’ strongholds in the area.

Less than 5 days later, President Volodymyr Zelensky was able to visit the strategic city of Izyum, the new front line of the Ukrainian army after pushing Russian forces out of the northeastern province.

Syrsky reported directly to Zelensky’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief.

Syrsky, a 57-year-old Army lieutenant general, was also the commander of the operation to defend Kiev in the early stages of the fighting, when Russian forces tried to besiege Kiev for nearly two months.

In April, after Russian forces withdrew from northern Kiev, he was awarded the title “Hero of Ukraine” by President Zelensky, in recognition of his work in the defense of the capital.

He is considered a quiet man who prefers to read books rather than appear in front of the media.

The Army general has also spent years familiar with Western military doctrine and NATO’s mode of operations over the past decade.

Syrsky entered the ranks of the Ukrainian military leadership in 2007, when he began serving as chief of staff and deputy commander of the General Command of the Armed Forces.

In 2013, he was mainly responsible for defense cooperation with the West, reforming the Ukrainian army in accordance with NATO standards.

In 2014, when conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, Syrsky was appointed deputy commander of the campaign against the separatists.

He was directly involved in combat and commanded some of the most difficult operations, before being appointed campaign commander in 2017.

In 2019, in the midst of the Ukrainian army’s reforms according to Western standards, he became the commander of the army.

With more than half a decade on the eastern battlefield, Syrsky was assigned in September to lead the counterattack in Kharkov.

Observers say the attack in northeastern Ukraine came as a big surprise to the Russian military not only because of the months-long blind fire attack on the southern province of Kherson, but also because of its ability to keep the entire preparation process secret and the incredible speed of the operation.

“Syrsky was the kind of seasoned military officer who planned all situations, including scenarios that he himself considered unlikely,” the Washington Post’s editors wrote in their analysis of the battle in Kiev.

At a time when russia-Ukraine border tensions have escalated but have not yet reached the threshold of conflict, while many Ukrainian military leaders and Western military experts say Russia will never send ground troops to Kiev, Syrsky has urgently prepared a plan to defend the capital.

He did this, although he himself thought at the time that Russian troops would be concentrated in the east, fighting would mainly take place at the line between government troops and separatists in Donbass.

Orders to change troop positions, relocate expensive equipment and weapons to a safe zone, divide the combat zone and establish two defensive perimeters in Kiev were completed by Syrsky nearly a week before fighting broke out in the early hours of February 24.

“We’re military. Whatever forecast I personally believe in, I have an obligation to take steps to prepare according to the leadership requirements,” he said in an interview on June 6.

When drawing up the battle plan for the “third phase”, the stage when Ukraine counterattacked, it was Syrsky who raised the idea of launching a flank attack on the Russian line in Kharkov.

He made the proposal when he noticed the enemy’s “fatal” weakness in the town of Balakliya, an important bottleneck in the logistics network between Izyum and Kupyansk.

“His idea initially met with opposition from the General Staff, but he eventually successfully persuaded the military leadership to give the green light to the plan,” Ukrainian political analyst Aleksey Golobutskyi said.

The town of Balakliya has been controlled by Russian troops since March 2, less than two weeks after fighting broke out.

However, Syrsky argued that this was the weakest link in the Russian line, as it had moved most of its elite units south to defend Kherson.

According to the battle plan drawn up by General Syrsky, Ukrainian forces quickly surrounded the town, allowing many other units to advance quickly towards the Oskil River, cutting the Russian army’s defenses in half.

There are three small bridges over the Oskil River in the area, but all are within range of Ukrainian artillery shells.

Russian forces were buried on the Oskil line and were unable to provide support for the remaining strongholds.

They lacked artillery and air support, came under constant pressure from enemy artillery fire and eventually retreated on 4 September and 5 September.

The Ukrainian army began closing its siege on Balakliya the next day. Over the next 4 days, they regained control of the town and successfully recaptured Kupyansk.

More than a week after ordering the Kharkov army to launch the counterattack, General Syrsky was in the strategic city of Izyum to report on the developments and results of the operation to President Zelensky.

Sino-Russian Strategic Security Dialogue – Russia has recently repeatedly praised China’s “balanced attitude.”

Last week, the Lower House of Parliament issued a statement on a meeting between the speaker of China’s Parliament and Russian lawmakers in Moscow, saying Beijing “understands and supports Russia on issues that represent its vital interests, particularly regarding the situation in Ukraine.”

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev will participate in a series of meetings and consultations during a two-day visit to China, starting today.

Patrushev will attend the 17th Sino-Russian Strategic Security Dialogue and the 7th Sino-Russian Law Enforcement Security Cooperation Conference, according to a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website on September 18.

The visit follows a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on September 15.

It was the first meeting between the two leaders since Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine in late February.

At the meeting, Xi expressed Beijing’s “readiness to cooperate with Russia to strongly support issues related to each country’s core interests.”

Putin affirmed his support for China in the Taiwan issue and said the two leaders’ meeting would “strengthen the Russia-China partnership.”

The Kremlin boss also said he understood Beijing had “questions and concerns” about Moscow’s position on the conflict in Ukraine, a move the US said was “somewhat unexpected”.

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