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Ukraine’s Top General: War With Russia Has Reached Stalemate

Russia’s war with Ukraine has become totally bogged down in the trenches, according to Ukraine’s top general.

And the prospect of a long war gives Vladimir Putin and Russia an advantage, Ukraine’s Army Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny said in a sobering interview with the Economist published Wednesday night. 

In the five months since Ukraine launched an eagerly awaited counteroffensive, its troops have advanced only 17 kilometers through heavily fortified and mined Russian defense lines.

The counteroffensive has already disappointed many Ukrainian partners, some of whom are now demanding an end to military aid with the war deadlocked. However, the West’s cautious provision of weapons to Ukraine has allowed the Russians to mobilize thousands and fortify positions in occupied Ukraine, according to Zaluzhny.

“There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough,” the commander said.

Western arms supplies have been sufficient to sustain Ukraine in the war, but not enough to allow Kyiv to win. However, the top commander does not complain: “They are not obliged to give us anything, and we are grateful for what we have got, but I am simply stating the facts.”

Zaluzhny acknowledged a mistake in thinking Russia would halt the full-scale invasion after it lost more than 150,000 soldiers killed on the battlefield.

The Kremlin — with its massive human and economic resources — has been treating its soldiers like cheap resources, Zaluzhny said, sending them to die in frontal attacks against artillery, drones and tanks.

The lack of a breakthrough has caused some Ukraine fatigue among many of its formerly strong backers, Zaluzhny said. In the U.S., Republicans have been blocking any further aid for Ukraine until President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy show them a clear strategy to win the war.

Zelenskyy has been urging the democratic world to unite behind Kyiv, but with signs of diminishing returns.

“The American taxpayers have become weary of funding a never-ending stalemate in Ukraine with no vision of victory,” reads a recently published letter to Biden, signed by seven Republican members of the U.S. Congress.

Zaluzhny does have a battefield strategy, however.

According to an accompanying essay he wrote, the key to Ukraine’s possible path out of the current positional warfare is to: gain air superiority; breach mine barriers in depth; increase the effectiveness of counter-battery; create and train the necessary reserves; and build up electronic warfare capabilities.

In short, Zaluzhny said that combining old methods of war with superiority in technological warfare might let Ukraine fight to its strengths of flexibility and nimbleness.