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The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has intensified in the first four months of 2024, becoming the most challenging period in the two-year full-scale war. Ukrainian troops are facing a reconstituted Russian military supported by a war economy with significant Chinese assistance. Western support for Ukraine has been slow and hesitant, leaving Kyiv on the defensive. The year 2024 is expected to be difficult for Ukraine following a disappointing 2023 offensive, as indicated by Kusti Salm, the permanent secretary at the Estonian Defense Ministry.

On the ground, Russia continues its westward push in the eastern front, with a focus on capturing territories in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia. The objective of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, a key Kremlin goal since 2014, seems within reach. Russian forces are laying the groundwork for a potential fresh summer offensive, targeting cities like Chasiv Yar and Kupiansk. The ongoing offensive is part of a larger strategy that may lead to further territorial gains.

In response, Ukraine is adopting defensive strategies and focusing on disrupting Russian communications and logistics. The arrival of the American ATACMS missile system has given Kyiv greater reach to targets inside Russia. However, there is a limited window of opportunity to exploit this technology before Russia adapts to counter these new threats. Ukraine’s air force is also expecting delivery of American F-16 fighter jets, which will enhance its defense capabilities against Russian airstrikes.

At sea, Ukraine continues its naval asymmetric warfare against Russia, using drones and cruise missiles to target the Black Sea Fleet. This strategy has forced Russia to withdraw high-value naval assets from occupied Crimea, shifting its focus to the Mediterranean Sea. Despite Ukraine’s lack of a significant conventional navy, its use of drones and advanced long-range weapons poses a potent threat to Russia’s naval assets. The conflict remains volatile, with both sides adapting their tactics and capabilities to gain an advantage.

Overall, the situation in Ukraine is dire, with Russian forces making slow but steady progress in capturing territory in the eastern regions. Ukraine is facing increasing challenges and is relying on Western support for weaponry and military aid. With ongoing battles on multiple fronts, the conflict shows no signs of abating, and both sides continue to engage in a protracted struggle for control over key strategic areas. The coming months will be critical in determining the outcome of this long-standing conflict.

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