Oleg Zhdanov: where can Russia land troops and what about the counter-offensive
Ukraine is "in full swing" receiving weapons from Western partners, carrying out counterattacks and counter-offensives, military expert Oleg Zhdanov is convinced. But, he warns, there are also a number of threats posed by the Russian Federation, such as the landing of troops in Bessarabia and the shelling of troops stationed in southern Ukraine with Smerch systems pulled to the north of Crimea.
Author: Alexey Tarasov
In an interview with Radio NV, Zhdanov spoke about the situation on the fronts on the eve of May 9 and how the maneuverable defense of Ukraine continues.
Russia is concentrating anti-aircraft missile forces to the north of Crimea, closer to the Kherson region. In particular, there are S-300 complexes and Smerch multiple launch rocket systems. What could be the plans of the invaders?
The Smerch multiple launch rocket systems have a range of 120 kilometers with Tornado ammunition. If they reach our coast, then it is very bad, and this means that they will fire on our troops.
As for the air defense means, this is also bad because with these means, they will close the sky over Kherson and the territories adjacent to it. This means that when we begin the liberation of these territories, our aviation will have problems working in the sky to support our troops. This is expected, because Russia is trying to gain a foothold in the territories that it currently occupies, and every day it will try to strengthen its presence and defense there and increase the density of troops as much as possible.
Odessa continues to be shelled. A curfew was introduced there until May 10. How can one assess the level of threat to Odessa?
I would say that it is very high, but it was predictable. Odessa today worries them most of all, probably. Even more than the western regions of Ukraine, where they tried to destroy the infrastructure. Why? Because they do not give up trying to open a second front. To do this, you need to land troops and reinforce the group of troops, which is located in Transnistria. Therefore, the shelling of Odessa continues and can be intensified in the near future.
Is landing possible? Some experts say that there will be huge losses for the Russians in this case.
Let's clarify. I mean the landing of troops not in Odessa - there is really a huge problem to land troops and, most likely, this will not succeed. But there is still Bessarabia, which they are trying to cut off from mainland Ukraine by destroying the means of communication, namely the bridge across the Liman.
Why is such a fierce battle going on for Snake Island? They want to use it as a springboard to support the operations of the Black Sea Squadron to land troops. If air defense systems are deployed on Snake Island, then they will be able to cover the squadron from the air, approach Bessarabia, and try to land troops.
The American Institute for the Study of War reported that the Ukrainian counter-offensive northeast of Kharkiv has made significant progress and is likely to move towards the border with Russia in the coming days or weeks. How do you assess this counter-offensive?
I positively assess any counter-offensive, any liberation of our territories. In this case, I agree [with an expert assessment] because the number of troops is the weakest. We have all the advantages there to reach the state border with the available forces and means. And then we will have a direction to the south and along the border. This will come in handy when we start a large-scale counter-offensive operation.
Ukrainian troops have retreated from Popasna, and the Russians present this as their victory. Can you tell us why the city is strategically important and how we moved out of there?
Popasnaya matters because it is the advance of Russian troops in the direction of Severodonetsk and the fulfillment by them of the combat missions that were set. We withdrew from the consideration that there was nothing to defend there, the positions were broken by artillery, and enemy aircraft. Therefore, we retreated to a new, equipped frontier, more profitable for us. We retreated on our own in advance - not under fire, without hastily leaving our position in Popasnaya.
The next frontier, which we will defend, will be like a fortified area for the enemy. And we will again be able to inflict fire defeat on the enemy. This is how mobile defense is conducted.
There was news that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are going on a counter-offensive in the Zaporizhzhia region. What is our situation there?
In Zaporizhzhia, the situation is approximately the same as in the Kharkiv direction. They constantly attacked (I remind you that this was one of the most active directions, compared to Kryvyi Rih and Kherson), we inflicted a fire defeat on them, they began to regroup, we seized the opportunity and counterattacked them in this direction until they recovered from the defeat.
US President Joe Biden announced that it was on May 9 that he would sign the Lend-Lease Act. How fast can arms deliveries then occur?
I understand that the document's signing will not particularly affect the supply of weapons. The main event took place in Ramstein, at a conference of 43 countries, when a framework agreement or agreement was agreed on who supplies what.
Tomorrow's signing of the document is a legal basis for substantiating supplies already going to Ukraine at full speed.
What do you think, what could be the decisive defeat of the Kremlin?
This is the defeat of the combat-ready part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In principle, we have been doing this since the first day of the war. Today, if we rely on the analytical conclusions of Western experts, then 65% of the combat-ready troops of the RF Armed Forces are located in Ukraine. If we defeat this army (and there will still be reserves - they will try to replenish the losses), then the Russian Federation will not be able to restore the combat capability that it had before the start of this military campaign. This will be considered a military defeat.