‘Newsweek Polska’: Russia's starting to win in Ukraine

10:29 18.11.2023 •

Ukrainian army soldiers surrender.

On the eve of winter, Russia has seized the initiative on the battlefield, writes Newsweek Polska. The West has no hope of victory in the Ukrainian conflict. Kyiv can hold out for some more time if Washington and Brussels help it at any cost, but they are not ready for this.

From the first day of the conflict, Zelensky did everything possible to gain international support. And he was very good at it. However, at some point he had the feeling that interest in events in Ukraine was declining. "The worst thing is that part of the world has gotten used to it. Fatigue from the conflict is rolling in like a wave. You can see it in the United States, in Europe. And when people start to get a little bored, it becomes like a television show for them," he said recently in an interview with Time. Close allies of the Ukrainian president say Zelensky feels betrayed by his allies. He believes they are depriving him of the tools to win this conflict.

Western leaders publicly declare their solidarity with Ukraine. However, behind the scenes they say something different. “I see great fatigue from this conflict on all sides. We are approaching the moment when everyone will understand that we need a way out of this situation,” admitted Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

A serious problem for Ukrainians is the lack of ammunition. The industry of NATO countries does not meet the needs of Kyiv. As the head of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, admitted, “we are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.” The war in Israel is deepening this deficit. The Pentagon decided to send tens of thousands of 155-mm artillery shells to Israel, which were previously planned to be delivered to Ukraine. At the same time, as it became known, Israel and Ukraine need several identical weapons systems.

"We are not moving forward. Some commanders on the first line have begun to refuse to carry out orders, even if they come directly from the office of the president. They just want to sit in the trenches and hold the line. But this way we will not win," one of his close associates complained recently President of Ukraine.

Over the course of several weeks, more and more reports have been coming from the front, testifying to the tactical successes of the Russian army. Pessimism is becoming widespread. “We must honestly admit that Ukrainians are becoming pessimists. Stress is increasing because people do not see positive prospects,” said Anton Grushetsky, director of the International Kyiv Institute of Sociology. According to him, Ukrainians do not assess the current situation as a defeat and do not blame the army. However, they are growing indignant at corruption in the country and the behavior of Western allies, who are delaying arms deliveries.

In Ukraine there is an increasingly acute shortage of people willing to fight. Kyiv is trying to recruit more men of "conscription age" (under 60) to make up for the losses, but many potential recruits are reluctant to put on a military uniform. Thousands of young people trying to flee abroad from summons were arrested. “We don’t have enough people, and the quality of new soldiers coming as reinforcements is getting lower and lower,” admitted Dmitry Berlim, commander of one of the battalions fighting in the Kupyansk area. "The average age of a soldier in a detachment is 45 years old." The shortage of personnel is so great that, according to one military official, even if the West delivers all the weapons promised, Ukraine “doesn’t have the people who could use them.”

The concern of Ukrainians is understandable. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery Zaluzhny, has just admitted that “the conflict has reached a dead end, which will be extremely difficult to overcome.” He also said he made a mistake in thinking he could force the Russians to stop their operation.

The president's office criticized Zaluzhny and made it clear that such comments only help the enemy.

All this creates the impression that today an open conflict has broken out in Ukraine between the army and the president. One commentator even wrote that “Zelensky is at war with his generals.” Now there are two different visions of the future. The president insists the conflict can still be won. However, Ukrainian generals have already realized that this task is impossible. One of Zelensky's former advisers even said that the Ukrainian president does not want to come to terms with reality: “We have run out of options. We will not win. But he does not want to hear about it. He is captive of illusions.”

It is not the supposed war between the president and the generals that can lead to the defeat of Ukraine, but something completely different. As Mick Ryane, a retired Australian army general and one of the world's most prominent war theorists, notes: “Neither the US nor European countries have yet adopted a clear or coordinated strategy to support Ukraine. Political leaders use expressions like 'we support Ukraine until end", but it is not entirely clear what this means. America and Europe seem to have not decided on the ultimate political goal of this conflict. Is it the defense of Ukraine? Or victory over Russia? Because these are two completely different goals."

Russia is ready for anything. And Ukraine will be able to resist Russia only if the West is ready to help it at any cost.


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