Make no mistake, Ukraine has launched its counteroffensive against Russia.
They may be reticent in public, but Ukrainian troops are clearly probing the front lines for weaknesses.
And yesterday’s attack on the Kakhovka Dam was a Russian military attempt to make it more difficult for Ukrainians to cross the Dnieper and retake land in the south.
Russia is trying to hold on to its strategic “achievements” in Ukraine and protect the annexed Crimea region while Ukraine begins its offensive.
Blowing up the dam could not only slow Ukrainian troops, but also leave them more vulnerable to attack if they were forced to advance to other points in the south of the country.
We don’t yet know how damaged the dam is, but it is an environmental, economic and humanitarian disaster.
Agricultural land that Ukraine relies on for grain production is being flooded, and we still don’t know if the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the south-west is at risk.
It also has serious consequences for those who live in Crimea and use the water supply.
But the Russian military may not have considered all of this when making the decision to blow up the dam.
They have a policy of scorched earth destruction.
President Vladimir Putin will do what he always does and blame the West for the attack, while those who support him in Crimea will accept it as part of the horrors of war.
There has been some debate as to whether Ukraine has launched its counteroffensive, but I have no doubts about it given the number of missile attacks in recent weeks.
Publicly, Ukraine will not admit the start of the offensive for military reasons.
And of course Russia wants to control the narrative, claiming it pushed back enemy attacks at five points in Donetsk, killing 250 people. I doubt that because they would never be that accurate in a dynamic fight that fast.
I predicted that the offensive would start in late May or early this month so Ukraine could take advantage of the good weather.
Politically, too, the Western world awaited the outcome of all the equipment and training provided to Ukraine.
At some point we will see a traditional offensive, with artillery, rocket launchers, tanks and tanks rolling across the land and liberating cities, much like the end of WWII.
But not yet.
At the moment it’s about uncovering weaknesses in the Russian defense. This is very modern warfare that is as much about electronic warfare and cyber warfare as it is about the battlefield.
Ukraine will have two strategic goals, but it is unlikely to achieve both at the same time. They will want to retake the Donbass and the second objective could be a push south towards Crimea, splitting the Russian army and forcing those trapped in the west to flee or surrender.
Russia is undeniably strong with around 200,000 troops on the frontlines, but when push comes to shove, they could fall apart.
Russia has no shortage of soldiers and can send wave after wave of men. The question then is whether well-trained Ukrainians, backed by Western weapons, will be enough to defeat a huge army.
We’ll find out in a moment.
Ukrainians are better at fighting and have this fighting spirit because they want their country back.
During the winter, Ukrainian soldiers in the trenches along the Donbass fared better than the Russians, who were disorganized and fighting over supplies and food.
Ukraine has 600,000 reservists and a third of them had spent time in the trenches between 2014 and 2022 and were therefore used to such conflicts.
Russia believes that if it can sustain this war for a few years, Western support will fall away.
There is no chance that anyone will come to the negotiating table in the coming months.
It could be that if Russian lines are pushed back to where they were before February 2022, the West may see this as a victory, and China may step in to bring everyone back to the negotiating table.
Negotiations could prove difficult, however, as Ukraine wants all of its lands back, including the Donbass territories captured in 2014.
Whatever happens, Ukraine must have made some dramatic progress by mid-September before winter sets in and a push into the occupied territories becomes more difficult.
In Russia there is resistance to the war and the country has lost almost a quarter of a million soldiers.
This is beginning to have an impact on communities. Everyone knows someone who has fallen victim to or been lost in conflict.
Putin could quickly lose support – but he doesn’t care. The problem is that the opposition in the country does not have an easy political outlet.
I think it will be canceled at some point – but we just don’t know when.