September 26, 2022

Archive Event Highlight

Ukraine Experts Predict Counterattack Against Russia Before Fall

by Chad Bouchard

During an OPC panel on July 13, three experts with longtime experience in Ukraine said the country’s military could soon be ready to launch a counter-offensive against depleted Russian forces – if Western allies supplied enough support.

Panelists were Andrii Osadchuk, a member of Ukrainian parliament for the Golos (Voice) Party; Andy Bain, a retired US Marine Corps colonel who leads the Ukrainian Freedom Fund, a nonprofit that raises money to buy equipment for Ukraine’s military; and Daniel Bilak, a Canadian-Ukrainian who is senior counsel in Kyiv for the Kinstellar law firm. The moderator was OPC member James Brooke, who worked from 2015 to 2021 as a business reporter based in Kyiv.

Bilak said if Ukraine receives ample supplies, the country is set to “win” the conflict, taking back most of its land by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

“We’ve been at war for eight years with the Russians, and we know how to fight them,” he said. “The key thing is for the West not to lose focus and maintain the sanctions – a very robust, even stronger sanctions policy. We have to degrade Vladimir Putin’s ability to wage war.”

Bain, who has lived in Kyiv for 30 years, said Ukraine has seen heavy casualties and a lot of troops rushed to the front without adequate training.

“There are a number of [Ukrainian military leaders] who probably should be investigated for and fired or put in jail for malfeasance in terms of preparation and their conduct. The bright side of all that is the Russians are faring even worse.”

He said the current front will likely remain in a stalemate until early September because the Russians are too depleted to advance, and that Ukraine could launch a counterattack soon after. But Bain said Ukraine is in a race against time before seasonal rain in the fall will make crossing fields in tanks and other tracked vehicles more difficult.

Osadchuk said many Ukrainians predicted that enthusiasm and support from the U.S. and Western countries would flag after three or four months, which has come to pass. He said news about the war in foreign media has started to fall from front-page coverage to the bottom of back pages.

Osadchuk said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation causes some uncertainty for Ukraine, but that Western powers will honor prior statements of support from the U.K., the U.S. and NATO.

“We believe that Ukraine will receive enough resources to continue – not only for resistance but for a counter offense to push them back.”

Bilak said initial shock from Western audiences in March has faded, and are now probably desensitized to violent images of the war. He said reporters have done a good job providing context and “getting an education” about the country’s long and complicated relationship with Russia.

Osadchuk said Ukraine “won the communication war” during the first four months of the conflict.

“And that’s an important result. We were able to deliver messages. We were able to deliver information.” He said digital communication, cell phone cameras and drones have helped to record and show the world what has been happening on the ground.

Click the window below to watch clips from the program on the OPC’s YouTube channel.