Weeds and Undergrowth Hindering Ukrainian Counteroffensive, Says UK

UNSPECIFIED, UKRAINE - JULY 31: Ukrainian soldiers of the 128th Brigade of the Territorial
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The fact farmers haven’t been able to tend their land in warzones for a year and a half is being blamed for the slow progress of the Ukrainian counteroffensive as the weeds reclaiming the land snarl up progress.

Thick weeds and undergrowth in Ukrane’s warzones are helping to camouflage Russia’s defenses and make mines harder to detect, Britain’s Ministry of Defence explains as the counteroffensive grinds on.

While Ukrainian authorities, including President Zelensky, have at times had to explain away the slow progress of the counteroffensive, they can at least now blame the prevailing conditions on the ground. Published in one of the UK’s periodic intelligence digests, the MOD noted “Undergrowth regrowing across the battlefields of southern Ukraine is likely one factor contributing to the generally slow progress of combat”, and this was caused by 18 months of farmers being unable to access their land.

The weather was also a factor, the MOD said, saying “the return of weeds and shrubs [was] accelerating under the warm, damp summer conditions… The extra cover helps camouflage Russian defensive positions and makes defensive mine fields harder to clear.”

While the thick undergrowth was also beneficial to “small, stealthy infantry assaults”, in all it was disadvantageous to the Ukrainians, it was said.

The news of Ukrainian weeds comes amid claims their armed forces have started to abandon the NATO-standard tactics taught to them by Western nations in preparation for the counteroffensive, and are reverting to the old style. The claims come in a New York Times report acknowledged by Ukraine’s own state media which asserts the counteroffensive has not gone as hoped so far, but that commanders are trying to turn things around.

The NYT observes:

Ukraine’s decision to change tactics is a clear signal that NATO’s hopes for large advances made by Ukrainian formations armed with new weapons, new training and an injection of artillery ammunition have failed to materialize, at least for now.

It raises questions about the quality of the training the Ukrainians received from the West and about whether tens of billions of dollars’ worth of weapons, including nearly $44 billion worth from the Biden administration, have been successful in transforming the Ukrainian military into a NATO-standard fighting force.

As previously reported, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has admitted the counteroffensive is going “slower than desired” but part of the Western perspective on this was coloured by unrealistic expectations caused by a diet of Hollywood war movies. Ukraine would fight the war at its own pace, Zelensky has said, and would not “literally throw people under tanks” to expedite progress.



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