Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn has so far not been able to identify any real counter-offensive by the Ukrainians: “I’m careful with the terms,” he said in an interview with the Berlin news magazine FOCUS, which will be published on Saturday.
At best, he sees “counterattacks that can be used to win back locations or individual sections of the front, but not to push back Russia on a broad front”. Even the approaching winter will “not reduce the suffering – on the contrary”. The Ukrainian army acts “wisely, rarely offers a broadside and conducts operations confidently and very flexibly”.
And “just two weeks ago I would have said that in six months the entire Donbass will be in Russian hands. Today I’m saying: They won’t be able to do that.” But Zorn, the highest-ranking soldier in the Bundeswehr, doubts whether the Ukrainians really have the strength for a counteroffensive: “They need a superiority of at least 3 to 1.”
Zorn also defended the previous German arms deliveries: “The list is considerable, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Together with the Dutch, we equipped an entire Ukrainian battalion with the Panzerhaubitze 2000, plus the MLRS multiple rocket launcher. Both came from their own stocks. The last of the 30 cheetahs have just been handed over to the Ukrainians. In addition, we have supplied countless vehicles, ammunition and equipment. With IRIS-T we are sending a missile defense system that we would like to have ourselves. We will support Ukraine for as long as necessary.”
But he warns against further arms deliveries: “My advice is really to recognize our numbers: we need everything that we give back,” Putin only understands one language, “that is that of power. For an effective deterrent, we need the appropriate forces. Our partners count on us.”
In the FOCUS interview, Zorn reiterated his fear that Russia could open a second front and named possible locations for the attack: “Kaliningrad, the Baltic Sea, the Finnish border, Georgia, Moldova… there are many possibilities. Putin would have the skills. Even if around 60 percent of its land forces are tied up in the Ukraine war, the land forces and, above all, the Russian navy and air force still have uncommitted capacities. If Putin ordered a general mobilization, he wouldn’t have any personnel problems either.”
A major Bundeswehr conference will take place in Berlin on Thursday and Friday, at which, in addition to Zorn, Defense Minister Lambrecht and Chancellor Scholz will also give speeches.
After the disaster in Kharkiv, the Kremlin has admitted a military defeat in Ukraine for the first time. A scapegoat is now being sought to keep Putin at bay. Ukraine wants to return to normality in the recaptured areas as quickly as possible and is paying pensions again.
The Kiev general staff reports that Russia is no longer sending new troops to Ukraine. The Russians are said to have fled from the city of Kreminna in the Luhansk Oblast. “They all ran away,” says the Ukrainian military governor. You can find all the latest news about the war in Ukraine in the ticker.