According to experts, the Russian war of aggression will not end this year. The Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces makes a strategic assessment of how the war might continue next year.
Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, published a strategic assessment on the further course of the Ukraine war on the Ukrainian platform “Ukrinform” on Thursday. He explains how long he thinks the war could last and what will determine Ukraine’s success.
The large-scale Russian war of aggression in Ukraine has long since gone beyond the concept of a medium-intensity local conflict, writes Zaluzhnyi. The Commander-in-Chief had every reason to believe that the war would not end before 2022. That’s why Zaluzhnyi offers a prospect of how the war could continue next year.
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Australian military expert Mick Ryan tweeted the Commander-in-Chief’s assessment: “I hope that all Western war schools (and military leadership teams) will issue this document as ‘Must Read, Discuss, Criticize and Learn’ in the coming days.”
The prospect of advancing towards Zaporizhia is even more attractive to Russia: “This would allow further advance north and pose a direct threat to the capture of the cities of Zaporizhia and Dnipro, which in turn would result in the Ukrainian side taking control of loses a large part of the left bank of the country (the Dnipro river – editor’s note),” writes the commander-in-chief.
According to Zaluzhnyi, however, Russia would face strategic and economic problems: “These include international isolation, partial economic pressure from international sanctions, problems with general mobilization and the lack of modern weapons and equipment, which will worsen over time.” .
Still, such a strategic move would bring Russia enough political and economic benefits to ensure the security of the self-proclaimed “republics” and complete their “special operation,” according to Zaluzhnyi.
According to Zaluzhnyi, the situation is different from Ukraine’s point of view: for the Ukrainian armed forces, the situation would be a complex mix of the actual location of the contact line, available resources, the stock of combat-ready forces and the strategic initiative remaining in the hands of the opponent , will.
The Russians would wedge themselves into the Ukrainian defenses, limiting any operational maneuvers by the Ukrainians. According to Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine should double its forces. The fact that Russia has an operational beachhead on the right bank of the Dnipro River also requires additional efforts from the Ukrainian armed forces.
If Ukraine regains control of Crimea, political and informal importance will be key. According to Zaluzhnyi, however, the military importance can be assessed differently. Under this scenario, Russia would lose the naval base of its Black Sea Fleet, an airfield network and large stocks of materiel, and most likely face massive losses in manpower and equipment, the commander-in-chief said.
According to the Commander-in-Chief, a worst-case plan must also be drawn up while not neglecting Russian tactical nuclear weapons: “Any Russian attempt to use tactical nuclear weapons must be countered by using the entire arsenal of means at the disposal of world powers , to be prevented”. The Commander-in-Chief could not foresee a certain outcome of the war.
Not only the amount of weapons and equipment should be in the foreground: “The discussion should relate to the creation or development of capabilities,” said the commander-in-chief.
If Ukraine manages to obtain the appropriate weapons, the operational and strategic prospects for 2023 will look completely different: “The mere threat that the Ukrainian armed forces will use means of destruction of the appropriate range will force Russia to decide the type, course and result of the ongoing reconsider confrontation,” writes Zaluzhnyi.