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Ukraine army chief says war with Russia moving to ‘stalemate’ phase

Ukraine's commander-in-chief said on Wednesday the war with Russia was moving to a new stage of static and attritional fighting, a phase he warned could benefit Moscow and allow it to rebuild its military power.

Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyi says Ukraine needs new military capabilities — including air power

A poster showing an image of Ukrainian soldiers, as seen in Kyiv, Ukraine, in late October 2023.

Ukraine's war with Russia is moving to a new stage of static and attritional fighting, the Ukrainian commander-in-chief says, and that could benefit Moscow and allow it to rebuild its military power.

In an article for The Economist, Gen. Valery Zaluzhnyi said his army needed key new military capabilities and technology, most importantly air power, to break out of the new phase of the war, now in its 21st month.

Using stark language, he described risks of prolonged, attritional fighting: "This will benefit Russia, allowing it to rebuild its military power, eventually threatening Ukraine's armed forces and the state itself."

His article comes almost five months into a major Ukrainian counteroffensive that has not made a serious breakthrough against heavily mined Russian defensive lines. Fighting is expected to slow as the weather worsens.

Russian troops have now gone on the offensive in parts of in the east and Kyiv fears Moscow plans to unleash a campaign of airstrikes to cripple the power grid, plunging millions into darkness in the depths of winter.

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"Just like in the First World War we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate," Zaluzhnyi was quoted as saying in an interview published alongside his article.

The article singled out Russia's air power advantage as a factor that had made advancing harder and called for Kyiv to conduct massive drone strikes to overload Russia's air defences.

"Basic weapons, such as missiles and shells, remain essential. But Ukraine's armed forces need key military capabilities and technologies to break out of this kind of war. The most important one is air power," he wrote.

He said Ukraine needed to get better at destroying Russian artillery and also to devise better mine-breaching technology, saying Western supplies have proven insufficient faced with Russian minefields that stretched back 20 kilometres in some areas.

He called it a priority for Ukraine to build up its reserve forces despite noting it had limited capacity to train them inside the country and highlighting gaps in legislation that allowed people to evade service.

"We are trying to fix these problems. We are introducing a unified register of draftees, and we must expand the category of citizens who can be called up for training or mobilization," he wrote.

Mounting toll of landmines, explosives

The war is enacting a mounting toll on Ukrainian civilians.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's military said more than 260 civilians have been killed in Ukraine after stepping on landmines or other explosives during the war.

A Ukrainian police officer searches for mines in a field in the Izyum district last month.

Kyiv estimates that 174,000 square kilometres of the country — about a third of its territory — is potentially strewn with mines or dangerous war detritus.

At least 571 people have received injuries during more than 560 incidents involving mines or explosive objects left behind by the fighting, the General Staff said on Telegram.

Almost a quarter of the incidents occurred in fields, it added.

Some farmers take risks trying to work in areas thought to be contaminated with mines. On Wednesday, a tractor hit an unidentified explosive in southern Mykolaiv region, leaving two men wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

Ukraine is in critical need of sappers — soldiers trained to remove landmines and other explosives. It now has about 3,000 specialists operating, but it needs 7,000 more to fully clear all the mines, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal was quoted as saying by Ukraine's public broadcaster, Suspilne.

Drone attack on refinery

A Russian drone attack set ablaze the Kremenchuk oil refinery in central Ukraine and knocked out power supply in three villages, while battlefield reports said Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks in frontline sectors in the east and northeast.

Firefighters are seen from behind spraying a hose into a burning structure

The fire at the Kremenchuk refinery, which Moscow has targeted many times during the war and Kyiv says is not operational, was quickly put out, said Filip Pronin, head of Poltava region's military administration. The extent of the damage wasn't clear.

Ukraine's air force said defences shot down 18 of 20 drones and a missile fired by Russia overnight before they reached their targets in an attack aimed at military and critical infrastructure.

"The focus of the attack was Poltava region; it was attacked in several waves," air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said on national television.

Attacks near Avdiivka

The General Staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said troops had repelled eight Russian attacks near Kupiansk in the northeast; five near the shattered eastern town of Bakhmut, held by Russian forces; and five further south near Avdiivka, a focal point of Russian assaults since mid-October.

A video posted by the Ukrainian military showed its forces destroying a Russian flamethrower system near Avdiivka, an attack it said could be observed for dozens of kilometres.

Military analyst Oleksandr Kovalenko, in an article posted online, said some 40,000 Russian troops were now massed outside Avdiivka, widely viewed as a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

"Despite its losses, the Russian command still intends to capture Avdiivka, which is now a political, rather than a tactical, aim," Kovalenko wrote.

Natalia Khomeniuk, a military spokesperson in the south, said Russian forces had dropped 20 aerial bombs in Kherson region from positions they now hold on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River after abandoning the region's main town last year. Russian forces shell the river's western bank almost daily.

In Poltava region, three villages lost electricity after power lines and an unnamed infrastructure facility were damaged, the Ukrainian Energy Ministry said on Telegram.

Railway power lines were damaged by falling debris in central Kirovohrad region, but the damage was quickly repaired, Gov. Andriy Raikovych said.

The Ukrainian military said Russia carried out another missile attack on Poltava region and southern Odesa region later on Wednesday morning, with two missiles downed in the latter.

Reuters could not independently verify the reports. Russia made no immediate comment on the Ukrainian reports.

The Russian Defence Ministry's accounts said its forces had hit Ukrainian troops and equipment in villages south of Bakhmut.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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