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08 Nov. 2023

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Can Ukraine win a positional war of attrition?

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Can Ukraine win a positional war of attrition?

Since September 2023, Ukraine has been talking about how everyone should prepare for a war of attrition. Find out what this phase of the war entails and whether Ukraine will be able to win if it engages in positional combat with russia

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In September 2023, Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said that Ukraine was not happy about the prospect of a war of attrition with russia, but had no other choice. And Ukraine's main task is to hold out "one day longer" than the enemy.


"Are the Ukrainian people happy about the prospect of a long war of attrition? Absolutely not. We are going this way only because there is no other way today. That is why our task is to hold out one day longer than the enemy. And we will do it. Because, unlike russia, we have no choice," he said.


Today, the threat of a positional war of attrition has become even louder, as the summer counteroffensive has not yielded the desired result and has shifted from maneuvering to positional battles, in which every meter of liberated Ukrainian land has a very high price.


Does this mean that Ukraine is losing and surrendering, and what does the historical background of positional wars of attrition tell us?


What is a positional war of attrition?


A war of attrition is a military strategy according to which one of the warring parties tries to exhaust the enemy by causing constant losses in personnel and equipment. Usually, the party with more resources wins in such a battle, and it is known that russia has much greater military potential than Ukraine.


Does Ukraine have a chance to win a war of attrition?


Yes, russia's potential and military budget are much higher than Ukraine's, but what is the key to victory? Depletion of the enemy is not only the destruction of manpower and military equipment, but also economic and material resources. And sanctions and the world's unwillingness to cooperate with russia are gradually narrowing russia's options and isolating it.


At the same time, it is important to take into account who the world supports in the war, because, as practice shows, the presence of allies who help financially and with equipment and weapons plays a very important role.


In addition, the strategy of attrition involves demoralizing the enemy. Given that russia's losses in this war have already exceeded 300,000 people, the morale of the russian army leaves much to be desired. At the same time, the occupiers have long been convinced that they are fighting for nothing and are sending them to Ukraine simply to be cannon fodder.

At the same time, the Ukrainian army is fighting for its land, independence and freedom. That is why the motivation and morale in Ukraine and russia are completely different.




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It is worth noting that demoralization of the military and society has played a key role in many wars. The most striking examples are the Vietnam War of 1955-1975 and the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989. 


In the first case, the United States was forced to withdraw its troops from Vietnam in 1973 due to huge losses, demoralization of society, and the anti-war movement that spread across the United States due to the extensive media coverage of the war's failures.


And in the second, the Soviet Union was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989. In particular, due to the so-called Afghanistan syndrome and public rejection of the war in Afghanistan, which led to the silencing of real losses, economic factors related to the sanctions imposed on them and the costs of the war itself. 


Thus, belief in victory can be a key factor in winning this war. And Ukraine has something to fight for and believe in.


Together to victory!


We remind you! In recent months, internal tension and fear among Ukrainians have been growing, as prolonged hostilities are draining the psyche of people. Read more about when the war in Ukraine will end, according to experts, and what other opinions about the end of hostilities prevail online in our previous article.


Photo: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine


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