Ukraine expected on Wednesday that the counterattack its launching to recover the territories occupied by Russia will be long and difficult, stressing that it needs new Western tanks and F16 aircraft.
Ukrainian forces launched a major operation in early June to repel Russian forces in the south and east, but this attack has so far achieved only limited success, due to the strong Russian defenses of trenches and minefields.
“Without any doubt, this process will be very difficult, long and will take a long time,” Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
“Russia has built a massive defense system, and it’s not easy to break,” he added.
However, he emphasized that the Ukrainian forces are gradually increasing their pressure on their opponent by destroying its military bases and logistical chains.
He believed that this strategy might succeed in making the Russian defense lines collapse within several months.
Podolak pointed out that all the trained brigades for the counter-attack haven’t yet been sent to the fighting, downplaying the importance of the progress on the northeastern front announced by Moscow in recent days.
He believed that the main obstacle to the progress of the Ukrainian forces now is the depth of the minefields that the Russian army had set up within months, which ranged from four to sixteen kilometers.
Despite the efforts of Kiev’s Western allies, the Ukrainian army also faces problems in supplying it with weapons, according to the official, pointing out that the Western military-industrial complexes weren’t ready for a war of this kind, with such an extensive use of weapons.
Podolyak stated that Ukraine needs 200 to 300 additional armored vehicles, especially tanks, between 60 and 80 F16s, and five to ten additional air defense systems of the US Patriot model or something else equivalent to the French SAMP/T.
Podolyak added, “We need shells,” noting that the Ukrainian forces use 4,500-6,000 heavy-caliber shells daily.
“We should be able to use 150 to 200 long-range missiles every month, or even 300 or 400,” he added.
He stressed that Ukraine especially needs more “Storm Shadow” missiles, which London had previously sent shipments of, and “Scalp” missiles that France pledged to send, in addition to the “Atakms” missiles that Kiev and Washington have been demanding for months.
He stressed that the Westerners are fully aware of the delay in the supply of weapons, and are seeking to reduce the time required for their production and delivery, but he criticized some allies for taking more slow decisions than during the first months of the Russian invasion in 2022.
“It seems that some of the partners have lost that sense of fear that existed at the beginning of the war,” he said.
In addition, the presidential advisor ruled out any negotiations with Russia aimed at destroying Ukraine and restoring complete control over the countries of the former Soviet Union.
“For us, no settlement is possible because Russia hates us… It came to destroy the very concept of the Ukrainian state,” Podolyak said.
Podolyak believed that Russia hopes to significantly reduce the intensity of the fighting and lay a new dividing line between the occupied regions and the rest of Ukraine, as was the case in 2015 after signing peace agreements with the pro-Russian separatists in the east, supported by Moscow.
Podolyak considered that in this case, Ukraine will face permanent provocations and in the end, “Russia will simply destroy Ukraine and obtain complete control over the region”.
Despite Western countries’ doubts about Kiev’s ability to recover all occupied territories, Podolyak stressed Kiev’s goal of regaining control over the entire country, including Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
“The solution can only be military, and Russia must lose,” he said.
For their part, Russian deputies voted on Wednesday, in a first reading, on a draft law that allows the National Guard to possess heavy weapons, including tanks that it may obtain from the stocks of the Wagner Military Group.
Under the text drafted by several influential deputies in the Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, National Guard units will have the right to be equipped with heavy weaponry whereas until now they had armored personnel carriers and light artillery.
The Russian National Guard established in 2016 to replace the police in maintaining public order, and has since witnessed a combative turn after being significantly involved in the first attacks at the beginning of the Russian attack on Ukraine.
The text didn’t mention Wagner, but after the failure of this group’s rebellion on June 24, the head of the National Guard indicated the possibility of receiving its tanks and other heavy equipment.
The Russian Interfax news agency quoted Viktor Zolotov, who is close to President Vladimir Putin, as saying, “We have neither tanks nor long-range heavy weapons… We’ll enter it according to the financing”.
After the attempted rebellion, the Russian president offered the Wagner fighters to join the regular forces, leave for Belarus, or return to civilian life.
The Russian military announced last week that this group had delivered more than 2,500 tons of ammunition, 20,000 light weapons and 2,000 other equipment, including T90 tanks, Grad and Uragan missile systems, Pantsir air defense systems and artillery.