Ukraine’s prospects of a battlefield victory aren’t looking good and the country must prepare for the worst, two lawmakers in Kiev told The Times of London in an article published on Friday.
The British outlet described the mood in the Ukrainian capital as “one of grim acceptance rather than defeatism,” acknowledging that Kiev has abandoned hopes of “imminent victory” in favor of trying not to lose any more territory.
“Right now, a victory on the battlefield is extremely unlikely. This war could last for years and years. Russia has the resources for this and their people will put up with it,” said Colonel Roman Kostenko, who commands a unit on the Kherson front but also serves as a member of parliament.
The MP, who sits on the Verkhovna Rada’s committee for national security, defense and intelligence, was skeptical that any weapons promised by the US and its allies could turn the tide.
“I don’t think there is any weapon right now that can have a strong influence on the outcome of the war,” Kostenko is quoted as saying. Long-range ATACMS missiles “can’t bring about a breakthrough” and F-16 fighters “can only help us achieve parity,” he added, noting that Russia has “hundreds” of more modern jets.
“I don’t understand who has it in their head that we can defeat Russia with dozens of F-16s,” Kostenko said.
A more realistic goal, Kostenko argued, would be to hold territory and minimize casualties, while launching long-range strikes against Russian targets. “We cannot afford to fight symmetrically with the Russians,” he told The Times, because “mathematically we will simply run out of people faster than they will.”
President Vladimir Zelensky has called for mobilizing another half a million men to replace the battlefield losses, which have become impossible to deny. One soldier on the Kharkov front, who requested anonymity, told the UK outlet he doesn’t bother giving new troops call signs, as “most of them don’t last long.”
Svyatoslav Yurash, another MP who is in the military, described the fighting as “painful” and said the Ukrainian forces “can’t respond to everything the Russians are throwing at us.”
“We should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. That’s the reality of it,” said Yurash, a 27-year-old private. His hope for victory is that the Russians rebel and change – or destroy – their own government.
“Moscow can be taken, just not by our armed forces per se,” he said.
Military and financial aid from the West, on which Kiev has become dependent over the past two years, appears to have dried up due to political disputes in Brussels and Washington. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told the Times he didn’t think the US would abandon Ukraine to “the forces of evil,” while President Vladimir Zelensky’s adviser, Mikhail Podoliak, argued that Russia has “tasted the blood of democracy” in Ukraine and must be stopped.
The current situation was the fault of the West, Podoliak said, for not giving Ukraine the weapons and supplies it needed soon enough.