A successful strategy of Sergei Shoigu 

Ukraine Soldier

After unsuccessful negotiations with Moscow in the spring of 2022, and after launching a counteroffensive that allowed Ukrainian forces to take back several districts of the Kharkiv region, in September of that same year, the Kyiv authorities started telling their allies that a Ukrainian victory was now a done deal. At the same time, in media all over the world it began to be said that the Russian army will not be able to withstand the counter-offensive of the Ukrainian army and making them believe that there were disagreements between the generals and a conflict between the Russian General Staff on the one side and private military companies and volunteer units on the other.

As a result,  the Ukrainian generals believed that then was the ideal time for a Ukrainian counter-offensive and that Ukraine would regain the territories quickly. However, with the beginning of the Ukrainian offensive in June, there was a cold shower for the Ukrainian army. Soon, everyone realize the extremely high degree of combat readiness of the Russians, who, even according to Western experts, had completely changed the tactics of their military operations.

“Russia has built heavily fortified defenses along the 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line, honed its electronic weapons to reduce Ukraine’s edge in combat drones, and turned heavy bombs from its massive Cold-War-era arsenal into precision-guided gliding munitions capable of striking targets without putting its warplanes at risk. The changing Russian tactics along with increased troop numbers and improved weaponry could make it challenging for Ukraine to score any kind of quick decisive victory, threatening to turn it into a long battle of attrition,“ writes in the analysis of Associated Press. (1)

One of the reasons for this is the fact that during the war, the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu started the reorganization of the Russian army and thus made the Russian army more resilient and adapted to all challenges. Results that were praised by all Western analysts soon followed. The Bakhmut operation, in which Ukraine had significant losses among the elite units, was carried out according to the plan of Sergei Shoigu and military chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov. Also, the plan for the current defense lines, which are currently an insurmountable obstacle for the Ukrainian army, is the work of Sergey Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov.

This is best seen if we remember that the main goal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive was to liberate Melitopol and Crimea and cut in half the Russian forces in the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions. At the same time, the Ukrainian military promised to repeat the successful liberation of the Kupyansky and Izyumsky districts of the Kharkiv region, completely ignoring the fact that at that time there were not enough Russian soldiers in those areas and that the mobilization was carried out later, at the request of Sergei Shoigu.

The Ukrainian army made another mistake, they focused its attention on the conflict that existed between the Russian Defense Ministry and the General Staff and members of PMC Wagner over the insufficient supply of artillery shells. This was presented as the “beginning of the end” of the Russian army and a prerequisite for a “purge” of its senior command staff. However, ignoring what the media, bloggers, and public opinion leaders were saying, the Russian army, had systematically been building up its positions in Zaporozhye.

The Ukrainian generals cannot be criticized, because everything indicated that it was the ideal time to deliver the final blow to the Russian army.

However, three months after the start of the counteroffensive, the results are more than modest. Apart from capturing a few villages, the Ukrainian army failed to make a significant breakthrough between the Russian defense lines.

What’s more, despite the ongoing war, the Russians have been confident enough to open a land route to Crimea, a hugely popular holiday region, via Melitopol. This reduces the travel time for the many holyday-makers from Russia’s western regions heading to the Crimean resorts.

Enjoying the full trust of Vladimir Putin, Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ignored all criticism, managing to create an impregnable line of defense and establishing a top-level command and control system.

All this resulted that early in the counteroffensive, Ukraine lost as much as 20 percent of its weapons and armor and that it was forced to slow down its counteroffensive.(2)

What makes the current situation even more interesting is that Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu at the moment does not even need to launch an offensive, because his troops are already inflicting heavy blows on the Ukrainian army, which the Western media write about in detail.

On the other hand, the problem for the Ukrainian army is that they cannot stop their counteroffensive because the Ukrainian and Western public wants results.

All of the above indicates that Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu and general Gerasimov have shown themselves to be top strategists, whose results are now not contested by their opposition in Russia and are praised by Western analysts. Everything points to the fact that there will be serious peace negotiations and the reaching of some agreement. Otherwise, the Russian army will start a serious offensive in the fall, the main direction of which will be the second largest Ukrainian city – Kharkiv!

  1. https://apnews.com/article/ukraine-russia-war-counteroffensive-weapons-tactics-8fbdd80504e9d2d1f722b471081504c0
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/15/us/politics/ukraine-leopards-bradleys-counteroffensive.html
Slavisha Batko Milacic: I live in Podgorica (capital of Montenegro), I am 32 years old, and I graduated history at University of Montenegro. My specialist graduate thesis was: “Foreign Policy of Russia from 1905 to 1917”. I have been doing analytics for years, writing in English and Serbian about the situation in the Balkans and Europe.


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