In an interview with The Economist, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzny, expressed his belief that Ukraine will not see any progress in its fight against Russia unless it gains a decisive technological advantage. Zaluzny acknowledged that Russia, with its larger population and greater resources, is in a better position and compared the conflict to a WW1-style stalemate. He stated that there will most likely be no significant breakthrough in the ongoing conflict and that it may drag on for years, wearing down Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov disagreed with Zaluzhny’s assessment, asserting that Russia was not in a stalemate and would continue its “special military operation” against Ukraine. He mocked the idea of expecting a Russian defeat as absurd.
Zaluzny highlighted the use of drones by both sides, which has eliminated the possibility of surprise concentration of forces. He argued that NATO textbooks and predictive models, which were used to plan the summer counteroffensive, have proven to be inaccurate.
The general also shared a nine-page essay with The Economist, in which he proposed technological solutions for Ukraine to gain an advantage against Russia. These include using drones with trap nets to catch Russian UAVs, ground GPS signal stations to counter Russian jamming, and robotic vehicles armed with plasma torches for demining.
Zaluzny expressed his enthusiasm for drone warfare and mentioned his recent conversations with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who has been advising the US government on advanced digital technology’s potential to improve military capabilities.
This week, Time reported a disconnect between Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s push to keep fighting and the realities on the ground. Some frontline commanders have defied orders to advance and instead prefer to hold the line in the trenches. A presidential aide revealed that Zelensky’s maximalist demands to recover all the lost territory are not sustainable, as Western patience is limited.
There have been rumors that Zaluzny also shares this sentiment. According to Ukrainian security sources, the general allegedly called for the counteroffensive to be stopped, but Zelensky refused to comply.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Ukrainian troops have suffered over 90,000 casualties and lost 600 tanks and nearly 1,900 armored vehicles since the start of the counteroffensive on June 4. Moscow sees the hostilities as part of a US proxy war against Russia, with Ukrainian troops being used as “cannon fodder.” The blame for derailing a negotiated resolution is placed on the West for pushing Kiev to fight “to the last Ukrainian.”
In conclusion, General Zaluzny’s assessment of the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia suggests that Ukraine will struggle to make progress without a technological advantage. The situation resembles a WW1-style stalemate, with Russia having the upper hand due to its larger population and resources. The use of drones by both sides has eliminated the element of surprise, rendering predictive models and NATO textbooks unreliable. Zaluzny proposes various technological solutions to improve Ukraine’s position. However, there appears to be a disconnect between President Zelensky’s push for further advances and the realities on the ground. The conflict is expected to continue, wearing down Ukraine over time.