Ukraine’s top general “has no doubt” that Russia will try again to take Kyiv
- Russia is attacking civilian infrastructure to force a ceasefire, according to Ukraine’s top general.
- Valerii Zaluzhnyi, head of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Russia wants to regroup for a new offensive.
- “I have no doubt that they will have another chance in Kyiv,” he told The Economist.
Russia is waging a kind of all-out war against Ukraine’s infrastructure, terrorizing civilians and committing possible war crimes, in an effort to force a ceasefire that it will only use to resupply its forces before a new offensive early next year. year, said Ukraine’s top military commander. in an interview published Thursday, warning that Russian invaders will at some point try again to seize the nation’s capital.
“The Russians are preparing about 200,000 fresh troops,” General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, head of Ukraine’s armed forces, said. told The Economist, referencing recent Russian mobilization efforts. “I have no doubt that they will have another chance in Kyiv.”
Zaluzhnyi, who took command of the army less than a year before Russia’s February 2022 invasion, suggested that Russia, despite humiliating setbacks in recent months, is on the verge of crippling Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, it could have a devastating effect on army morale.
“I’m not an energy expert, but it seems to me that we are on the edge. We are balancing on a very fine line,” he told the magazine.
If Russia succeeds in destroying Ukraine’s power grid, he continued, “that’s when the soldiers’ wives and children start to freeze. And that scenario is possible. What mood will the fighters be in, do you imagine?” Without water, electricity and heat, can we talk about preparing reserves to continue fighting?
Earlier this month, over a glass of champagne at a Kremlin award ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized that its armed forces are targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, attacks that have left millions without power in the cold winter, a possible war crime. “Yes, we do that,” he said. “But who started it?”
The Russian leader suggested that Ukraine was responsible for Russia’s actions, pointing to an attack on a bridge to Crimea that has since been repaired.
Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure, in many ways, come from a position of weakness. The Kremlin had prepared for no more than three months of war, Zaluzhnyi said. What the country’s armed forces need now is a chance to regroup, possibly under the guise of peace. Putin himself has said that the war could well be a “long processbut it is clear that the conflict was not meant to be.
“So most likely they are looking for ways to stop [fighting] and get a break by any means: bombing civilians, letting our wives and children freeze to death,” he said. “They need it for a simple purpose: they need time to gather resources and create new potential so they can continue their goals.”
The conventional wisdom has been that Russia’s most recent mobilization will, at best, result in thousands of demoralized recruits being thrown into the meat grinder that is eastern Ukraine. But Zaluzhnyi said he doesn’t think those troops lack patriotism and motivation as some might think.
“Russian mobilization has worked,” he said. “It is not true that their problems are so serious that these people will not fight. They will. A tsar tells them to go to war, and they go to war. I have studied the history of the two Chechen wars: it was the same. You can not as well equipped, but they still present a problem for us.
Ceasefire or not, Zaluzhnyi hopes that Russia will put all its efforts into a new offensive “which can take place in February, in the best case in March and in the worst case at the end of January,” he said. “It may not start in Donbas, but in the direction of Kyiv, in the direction of Belarus, I don’t rule out the southern direction as well.”
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov told CNN that he is concerned that a new Russian invasion could come from Belarus, whose authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, is a close ally of Putin, although, in a recent assessment, experts from the Institute for the Study of War argued that it is unlikely that Belarus itself join the war.
Whatever happens, Zaluzhnyi said he was confident his forces could defeat their much larger adversary, as long as Ukraine’s allies continued to help their defense. “I know I can beat this enemy,” he insisted. “But I need resources.”
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