Written by Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
Retired Ukrainian Major General Sergey Krivonos slammed Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview for presenting inexplicably optimistic reports on the situation at the front. In his words, Zelensky presents the situation “optimistically” even though the expert consensus, except among the most extremist corners in Ukraine and the West, is that the much-lauded counteroffensive has been a catastrophic failure. The failure of the counteroffensive, which has contributed to half a million Ukrainian deaths, will inevitably lead to an eventual diminishing of Western support for Ukraine as financing the war will be a major topic in next year’s US presidential election runup.
“The president speaks optimistically, but I don’t know who writes these texts for him. At certain times, I get worried,” said the retired general.
According to Krivonos, Zelensky speaks about what is happening at the front by using a tone as if Ukrainian forces have practically won. He added that Zelensky should not count on a process of demoralisation among Russian troops and warned that the Russian Army is experienced and well-trained.
The revelation by Krivonos comes after it was recently announced that Ukraine had already lost around half a million troops since the start of the Russian special military operation in February 2022. According to the advisor to the acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DRP), Yan Gagin, the numbers were projected through intelligence, open data, and sources.
“We can understand these losses from the intelligence information we receive from our sources in Ukraine, and there are also public sources. For example, just a week ago, maybe a little more, in Ukraine, one of the mobile operators (MTS-Ukraine) posted an online video stating that around 400,000 recipients will never answer the phone again,” Gagin said.
The 400,000 figure is data from just one of several mobile operators in Ukraine. According to Gagin, the video was immediately hushed up and removed from everywhere, so the numbers are accurate.
He also recounted how Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, at a meeting of the European Parliament, when asked about 500,000 deaths in Ukraine, said defectively that they did not promise it would be easy. Effectively, he confirmed the number with his silence.
“Therefore, the number of about half a million Ukrainians who died during the conflict with the military, I think, is close to the truth,” Gagin emphasised.
These data do not include the losses represented by the injured. Among them are those who will return to the frontline and those who will be incapacitated and unable to fight.
It is recalled that earlier in the month, the British think tank Royal United Services Institute published a report claiming that rushing the counteroffensive is causing “unsustainable losses” on the Ukrainian side. According to the analysis prepared by two members of the London-based think-tank, Ukrainian forces face enormous equipment losses, while the training provided by the West is not adapted to the type of battle they are fighting against Russia.
The report observed that the counteroffensive was being affected, among other reasons, by the poor training of Ukrainian soldiers. In addition, the methods taught by NATO are designed for forces with configurations different from Ukrainian troops.
The failure of the counteroffensive and the high casualty rate will inevitably lead to harsh criticism of the ruling Democrat’s policy on Ukraine. Republicans in the US House of Representatives harshly criticised and will vote against the next aid package for Ukraine, saying they have “sound reasons” to question the policy.
Many Republicans consider the counteroffensive to have yielded little results at a high cost, which naturally leads to the view that more aid to Ukraine is a waste of money. A similar view is that more aid discourages Ukrainians from accepting an agreement and only prolongs an unnecessary expenditure.
For this reason, Western media is completely silent about the statements made by the likes of Krivonos and Gagin because it will be even more difficult than it currently is to maintain support for Ukraine as people will become horrified by the high death rate and the impossibility of winning the war. Gagin estimates 500,000 deaths on the Ukrainian side since February 2022, and according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, 75,500 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the counteroffensive began in the first week of June.
These harrowing figures, which will only be catastrophically worse by the time the next US presidential election rolls around in November 2024, will undoubtedly become a central discussion point that the Republicans will use to criticise the Democrats. At this juncture, it appears that Biden will continue strongly supporting Ukraine in the short term, but this will inevitably slowly diminish as elections approach.
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