russian soldiers artillery ukraine
© RIA Novosti/SputnikRussian servicemen of the Battlegroup South load a shell into a Giatsint-B 152 mm howitzer before firing at Ukrainian positions on the front lines amid Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, in an undisclosed location, Russia.
Russian forces have launched a large-scale offensive towards Kharkov, revealing apparent gaps in Ukraine's previously proclaimed fortified defenses along the northern border. According to military analyst Scott Ritter, the Ukrainian military, expecting robust defenses including anti-tank obstacles and minefields, was significantly outmaneuvered.

As Russian troops continue to push south from the Belgorod area, Ritter notes that the situation exposes a broader vulnerability within the Ukrainian defense strategy. "The Ukrainians are now in a panic, pulling forces from critical fronts elsewhere," Ritter explained. This reallocation of troops to the north leaves other strategic areas, such as Kherson and Odessa, potentially exposed to new Russian attacks.

Simultaneously, Russia's military seems to be capitalizing on a lack of Ukrainian reserves, with simultaneous pressures in the Zaporozhye and Donetsk regions contributing to what Ritter describes as "the collapse of Ukraine as a cohesive combat force.

"In the midst of these battlefield developments, Russia has appointed a new Minister of Defense, Andrei Belousov, a move that has sparked discussions and speculation both within Russia and internationally. Belousov, an economist with extensive governmental experience but no military background, steps into a role that seems more focused on managing the defense industry's growth and sustainability amid the conflict.

Some question the timing and suitability of appointing an economist as defense minister during wartime. However, supporters argue that his economic acumen is crucial for maintaining the efficiency and integrity of the defense sector's expansion.

"This is exactly the kind of person Russia needs," Ritter states, asserting that the strategic appointment aims to strengthen Russia's military capabilities indirectly through economic stability and reduced corruption.

Meanwhile, General Gennady Gerasimov will continue to oversee the military operations, ensuring continuity in leadership. According to Ritter, this combination of economic and military leadership is far from a sign of Russian weakness. "By bringing in Andrei Belousov, we're talking about Putin creating tempered steel," he remarked, suggesting that the West may underestimate Russia's strategic positioning.