Russia was defeated and ordered the withdrawal of its troops from Kharkiv. While skillful strategies deployed by Ukraine were attributed to the victory, the fundamental reasons behind Russia’s defeat in the region are that Putin’s troops have been struggling from shortages in manpower, fatigues, and lack of efficient tactics – meaning they did not have enough capacity sufficient to handle battles along the long line from the North to Kherson in the South of Ukraine.
There is an even bigger issue behind Russia’s military shortages. War strategy is about effectively leveraging one’s troops - effective deployment decides the overall strength of an army in the War. Russia, however, lacks the ability in arms combination, as it was cited as one of the weaknesses of the forces. Even when they were showing off their powerful artillery’s attacks, the advancement of their infantry divisions and tanks had been sluggish.
In a similar situation during World War II, Germany chose to delay actions and mobile defenses during the course of pulling out from Kharkiv. Russian army seems to have neither the agility of the German troops, nor the clear second defense line it is supposed to establish in the war. Over time Ukraine has gained more military forces and weapons, and now can shoot long-range with HIMARS. With this enhancement, Ukraine was able to strike the Russian army, as the latter has already lacked the capacity to provide back-up support, to move fast, or set the location to counter-attack,
Will this end the war then? Not yet. Russia will attempt at least one more counterattack. There are three possible scenarios to consider, but all these scenarios, or two of them, may fan out at the same time. Option one, Russia can invade the North of Ukraine with direct or indirect support from Belarus. Option two, Russia can reinforce its troops domestically and stage a major offense on the Donbass battle line. Option three, can prepare massive reinforcement while focusing on defending Lugansk for a while.
Option one is unlikely. Even if Russia attempts it, it will be a feint operation, not a major forces attack. Option two is highly likely. If it does happen, it will require the observers to renew their evaluation about the strength of the Russian army. Still, it would not bring a major situation turnover, as the power of troops is not something one can enhance in a short time. Option three, if implemented, will bring no immediate benefits to Russia and cause more agony to both countries in the war and the rest of the world. One more decisive victory is what Ukraine needs to end the war. While Ukraine’s military capacity may not be strong enough to draw out such a final triumph, winning strategy battles can bring what they want. Will we have a chance to see the winning tactics of Ukraine?