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The admission shocked Ukrainians who have shown little but resolute courage as they tried to fend off the Russian forces that invaded their country in February last year. In an interview with the Economist, the commander of Ukraine’s forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, confessed that the tragic conflict between the two former Soviet republics was becoming frozen in place.
“Just like in the First World War we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate,” Zaluzhny said in the November 1 story in the British magazine. “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”
The general and other Ukrainian leaders fear that Russia can manufacture more weapons systems and munitions, or procure more from allies like North Korea, while also sacrificing more soldiers to the meat grinder of war, wrote ABC News.
Many Ukrainians were crestfallen to think their soldiers would not prevail despite the painful sacrifices that their nation has made since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, a Ukrainian province under the suzerainty of Moscow, and occupied Donetsk and other regions of eastern Ukraine.
“We cannot afford any stalemate,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a press conference after the general’s interview, according to Radio Free Europe. “If we want to end the war, we must end it. End with respect so that the whole world knows that whoever came, captured, and killed, is responsible.”
But a 35-year-old Ukrainian soldier on the front was not surprised. The Ukrainians must gain territory from the Russians – or tolerate the unthinkable prospect of a bullying neighbor occupying their land. “I’ve been saying that for some time now already,” said the soldier, speaking to Agence France-Presse using a pseudonym, “Mudryi,” or “Wise.” “The longer this static war continues, the worse it is for us.”
To be sure, the Russians weren’t advancing either, noted the New York Times. Modern technology and precision weapons like drones – and drone jamming – have stopped each other’s advances. Zaluzhny called on Ukraine’s allies to help create new systems and tactics to break the technological logjam and inaugurate Ukraine’s victory of reclaiming their territory from an aggressor.
Geopolitical analyst Ian Bremmer believed this new, trench-warfare-style of an impasse between Ukraine and Russia could last a year. Writing in Time magazine, Bremmer noted how Putin was doing well of late. Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive came and went with little success. Hamas’ attacks in Israel diverted American attention and, potentially, American military aid from Eastern Europe.
This grinding war will likely grind on.