Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valeriy Zaluzhny, considers one of the main tasks of the army to “create reserves and prepare for a war that may take place in February, at best in March, at worst at the end of January.”
“It may start not from Donbas, but towards Kyiv, from Belarus, I do not exclude the southern direction. We have done all the calculations — how many tanks, artillery and so on and so forth we need. This is what everyone needs to focus on right now. May the soldiers in the trenches forgive me, now it is more important to focus on accumulating resources for more protracted and heavy fighting that may begin next year,” he said in an interview with The Economist.
In his opinion, the enemy’s task today is to exhaust the armed forces of Ukraine. “Therefore, as during the Second World War, I have no doubt, most likely, new resources are being prepared somewhere beyond the Urals. They are preparing 100%,” he said.
At the same time, in his opinion, “these will no longer be the resources that could have been in two years of truce. That’s not going to happen. The combat potential will be very, very low, even if he recruits another million people into the army to throw corpses, as Zhukov did, it will not bring the desired result in any case.”
“The next task that we have is, first of all, to hold this line and not lose any more positions. It is very important. Because I know that it is ten to fifteen times harder to release it than not to surrender. So our task now is to hold on,” Zaluzhny said, adding that “the second strategic task is to prepare for this war, which may happen in February. To be able to wage war with fresh forces and reserves.”
He called “missile defense and air defense” another task. “In my personal opinion, I am not an energy expert, but it seems to me that we are on the verge. We are teetering on a fine line. And if [the power grid] is destroyed … that’s when soldiers’ wives and children will start to freeze,” he said.
Zaluzhny noted that he “does not need hundreds of thousands (of people).” We need tanks, we need armored personnel carriers, mechanized infantry fighting vehicles. And we need ammunition.”
The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine noted that Russian troops have adapted to the presence of HIMARS systems in Ukraine. “They have gone to a distance unattainable for HIMARS. And we don’t have anything long-range,” he said.
“I know I can defeat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles, 500 howitzers. Then, I think, it is quite realistic to reach the frontiers on February 23. But I can’t do it with two brigades. I get what I get, but less than I need,” Zaluzhny also said.
With such resources, he noted, “I cannot conduct new large operations, although we are currently working on one. She’s on the way, but you haven’t seen her yet.”
In his opinion, “the Russian mobilization has worked. It is not true that their problems are so terrible that these people will not fight. They will. The king told them to go to war, and they are going to war. I studied the history of the two Chechen wars — it was the same there.”
“They may not be as well equipped, but they still pose a problem for us. According to our estimates, they have a reserve of 1.2–1.5 million people … The Russians are preparing about 200,000 fresh soldiers,” he said.