Ukraine confirms its counter-offensive has failed

Source: Centre for Eastern Studies

On 1 November, the Economist published an interview with the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, as well as an article by him in which he admitted that the situation at the front had reached a “dead end” and that neither side in the conflict was capable of going on the offensive.


He pointed out that it was his personal mistake to have forecast the rapid exhaustion of Russian military capabilities, including their potential for mobilisation. The enemy’s resistance had meant that the Ukrainian army was only able to advance 17 kilometres deep into its positions during the five months of its counter-offensive.

The general added that the current situation is reminiscent of trench warfare during World War I. The Ukrainian army’s attempts to break through the Russian positions failed because they became bogged down in minefields, and due to the enemy’s effective reconnaissance of Ukrainian forces’ groupings, which made it easier to destroy them.

Another reason for the failure was that new brigades without combat experience were sent into battle. According to Zaluzhnyi, the Ukrainians need “new technologies” in order to break the stalemate.



Zaluzhnyi identified the supply of air defence equipment as a priority; this should include fighter aircraft, drones, electronic warfare equipment, tools allowing counter-battery fire and equipment necessary for neutralising mines, including sapper robots.

Zaluzhnyi also stated that Ukraine has limited capacity to train reserves on its territory, and said there are problems with rotating the soldiers on the front line. He stressed that Ukraine’s partners in NATO need at least one year, and in some cases (such as fighter planes) two, to increase their capacity to produce equipment and ammunition.

Evaluating the military assistance provided by the US so far, Zaluzhnyi pointed out that it has only been sufficient to stem the Russian invasion, but not to win the war. The delay in the delivery of ATACMS missile systems and tanks allowed the enemy to regroup and organise defences.




Zaluzhnyi added that the F-16 fighter jets due to arrive in Ukraine next year may prove less useful due to Russia’s reinforcement of its S-400 air defence systems. In the general’s view, despite the difficult situation on the frontline, Ukraine has no choice but to maintain the initiative on the battlefield.

Zaluzhnyi pointed out that prolonged trench warfare could exhaust the defenders’ ability to continue military operations. He announced that Vladimir Putin is counting on the collapse of Ukrainian public morale and a reduction in support from the West. In Zaluzhnyi’s opinion, although Russia has suffered heavy losses (around 150,000 people), it will still hold the upper hand over Ukraine for a long time to come.


Source: Centre for Eastern Studies.



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