Ukraine Monitor presents the latest news concerning internal and external matters of Ukraine – a unique country where the interests of the East and the West clash almost every day.
Date: 13 November 2023 Author: Szymon Polewka
Ukraine’s Commander-In-Chief on the War with Russia in the Interview with The Economist
The October escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is part of a series of crises characteristic of the 2020s. At the same time, there is a phenomenon typical of democratic societies, which is a focus on one event that attracts worldwide attention. Therefore, the protracted war in Ukraine becomes a side issue in the stream of information inundating public opinion from the conflicted Middle East.
Despite the information smokescreen, an interview with General Valeriy Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, and his essay “Modern Positional Warfare and How to Win It” in The Economist resonated widely among experts. In the interview, Gen. Zaluzhny summarized another stage of the war, which has been characterized by a Ukrainian counteroffensive over the last five months. The description portrays an image of a new positional warfare, which in its form resembles the battles known from the western front of World War I. Despite prolonged struggles and the direct use of Western supplies, the Ukrainian army has been unable to break through the heavily fortified Russian defense lines. In this situation, even the Leopards and Abrams, in which significant hopes were placed, did not prove to be helpful. Gen. Zaluzhny points out that Ukraine’s air superiority may be crucial for the outcome of the war, with hopes resting on Western F-16 aircraft.
The lack of a visible breakthrough and heightened expectations arising from the Kharkiv counteroffensive in September 2022 are reflected in a decrease in the morale of Ukrainian society and disappointment among Ukraine’s Western allies. The key factor here is the position of the United States, where there has been a significant shift in public opinion towards Israel. Additionally, the strengthening position of the Republicans underscores the current involvement of the Western leader, which is a matter of concern.
Gen. Zaluzhny––as well as a group of military experts––emphasized the incorrect assessment of the attitudes of the Russian society. Initially, there were expectations that high casualties would lead to a scenario similar to the events of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan when the societal trauma accompanying the war ceased hostilities and thus contributed to the demise of the Soviet regime. Although Russia suffered ten times bigger losses than in Afghanistan, the Russian Federation still maintains operational capability and mobilization potential, which Vladimir Putin keeps exploiting in the run for the next term as president.
In his remarks, Gen. Zaluzhny reflected on the protracted war in Ukraine. The promised victory by the Ukrainian elites, which was supposed to be solidified through allied support, should not be taken for granted. Both geopolitical factors and the consolidation of the Russian army are giving a boost to the Kremlin.
1. Maksymilian Duran, Załużny się myli. Nie uzbrojenie, a wytrwałość wygra wojnę z Rosją, Defence 24, November 4, 2023 https://defence24.pl/wojna-na-ukrainie-raport-specjalny-defence24/zaluzny-sie-myli-nie-uzbrojenie-a-wytrwalosc-wygra-wojne-z-rosja-komentarz
2. Ukraine’s commander-in-chief on the breakthrough he needs to beat Russia, The Economist, November 1, 2023 https://www.economist.com/europe/2023/11/01/ukraines-commander-in-chief-on-the-breakthrough-he-needs-to-beat-russia
3. Veronika Melkozerova, Ukraine’s top general: War with Russia has reached stalemate, Politico, November 2, 2023 https://www.politico.eu/article/valery-zaluzhny-ukraine-top-general-war-russia-reach-stalemate/
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