Ukraine general's view of war 'stalemate' appears to be recognition of failed counteroffensive: Reporter's Notebook
General Valery Zaluzhny said that the slower-paced warfare benefits Russia.
The admission by Ukraine's top general that the war has reached a "stalemate" is simply a recognition, in some senses, of the reality on the ground and something we and others have already been reporting.
President Joe Biden has sought a $106 billion national security funding request that includes aid to Ukraine and Israel. However, some Republicans have resisted attaching Ukraine to that request.
"Stalemate" headlines risk fueling the notion that the deadlock cannot be broken by a continuous supply of Western weaponry. However, holding Russia back and ensuring Ukraine survives as a state remains the central goal for the U.S. and its allies.
Zaluzhny also appears to be signaling by using such language that Ukraine's much-hyped counteroffensive, that began over the summer and had significant U.S. backing, is over. The offensive did not succeed.
In October, Russia waged a new offensive and mounted a renewed push to take eastern Ukraine.
Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, penned a separate essay for The Economist in which he makes a pitch for Ukrainian needs in the longer term. This essay is tantamount to an admission of the scale of the longer-term challenge now facing the Ukrainian military in this more "static and attritional" phase of the war.
Zaluzhny admitted the slower-paced warfare of today "will benefit Russia."
This is hardly a shocking revelation, but it is another sign that Ukraine is sounding the alarm to allies about the factors that are now in Russia's favor.
It is feared Moscow will produce greater volumes of key weapon systems as well as procure munitions from its ally North Korea.
Russia’s ability and willingness to sacrifice a greater volume of soldiers in the fighting could also work in its favor in the longer-term.
According to General Zaluzhny, Moscow also has more specific advantages in key areas such as electronic warfare -- jamming and spoofing drones and jamming navigational signals for missiles.
If the Biden administration can get Congress to back more funding for Ukraine, then future U.S. military aid packages could address some of the deficiencies Ukraine clearly has which are mapped out in the General’s essay.
That said, even Ukraine's top general is now talking down the prospect of a significant breakthrough.
"There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough," he said.
On the one hand, it's a frank assessment.
But it's also a significant change in tone from a senior official and with the world's attention elsewhere, Ukraine has its work cut out convincing the doubters about the benefits of funding this war going forward.