Worst case scenario: What exactly Zaluzhnyy meant and what to expect in the winter

23 December 2022, 03:24 PM

I agree with everything that Zaluzhnyy has predicted.

I'll start with a commentary on his comments. It makes sense to do this because there have been many different assessments of how to understand General Zaluzhnyy’s responses in his interview with The Economist. I do not fully agree with these assessments.

First of all, regarding the fact that we are encouraged to stay calm because Zaluzhnyy said all this mainly for a foreign audience, and therefore he deliberately exaggerated and pumped up fears. This is where I strongly disagree. You can only talk about some arrangements of accents, but in no case should you deliberately pump up or, on the contrary, embellish the picture, because it is already on the verge of telling lies or half-truths. Still, General Zaluzhnyy was completely sincere and did not try to give answers that would not be read by those who do not read in English. Moreover, every time we read interviews or articles from our professional soldiers, we need to keep in mind that they have a purely military approach to assessing and planning a situation. You must always prepare for the worst-case scenario, and then everything below that is already anticipated for you, and you have a certain reserve of resources that you have prepared to counteract the implementation of the worst scenario.

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Therefore, General Zaluzhnyy described the worst-case scenario. However...

I did not see in this conversation with Zaluzhnyy that he was trying to present this as a forecast that this is how it should be. This is what we should prepare for, but it is not certain that it will be. If everything develops according to the worst case scenario, then we should know that the military command is preparing for this.

I agree with everything that Zaluzhnyy predicts. The only thing that would be interesting to me would be to know his opinion about a potential offensive from the territory of Belarus. Yes, I agree with his conclusions that it exists, but I wonder what he sees as the scenarios for the development of this event.

Preventing this threat is quite difficult. We do not have all the levers of influence on Lukashenko's decision. Putin is probably putting pressure on him again today. At some point, the decision to attack could be made. But if this attack is attempted, it is not certain that it will necessarily have negative consequences for the course of the war.

This could be a solution to the problem that has existed for 10 months

In my opinion (which is why I'm interested in what Zaluzhnyy thinks), it's not all that scary. Would an attack from Belarus towards Kyiv be? No, in fact, if we understand this threat and if we are ready for it, then this could even work to our advantage. In this case, at least the block which is now keeping Ukraine from delivering strikes on Russian positions located Belarusian bases would be removed. And with such actions, this completely removes the responsibility from Ukraine of possible accusations or arguments for Belarus' entry into this war. The fact that the Belarusian army, without significant support of manpower from Russia, is likely to receive a crushing defeat. This may entail a rather serious destabilization in Belarus itself. And this could be a solution to the problem that has existed for 10 months: the threat arising from Belarus.

What I want to say is this: even when we hear the scenario that has frightened many, especially the people of Kyiv, that there could be an attack on Kyiv from Belarus, this would not necessarily have catastrophic consequences. On the contrary, it could play to our advantage.

There are good messages in Zaluzhnyy's interview. He emphasizes several times that as commander in chief, he can plan different actions based on the resources available to him. This message goes both to our external partners and to the civilian leadership of our state. If you demand victories from the military in which territories are not surrendered, but rather liberated, then you must listen to the military about what resources they need for this. Fill these resource needs to the maximum, or if you can't satisfy these resources, then you have to take the risks publicly.

There is a danger in these high expectations from the army. Because heroism, motivation, morale are very important, but the army is also not the ultimate decider – it is the economy and resources.

Another important point I noticed: there is a new approach at this stage of the war, which General Zaluzhnyy emphasizes – the Ukrainian command from a certain moment abandoned the forced tactics of exchanging territories to gain time or gain operational advantages.

This largely explains why Ukraine is making such great sacrifices now in the battles near Bakhmut, which, according to our experts and foreign experts, is not of significant strategic value. But Zaluzhnyy said that from a certain point we will try not to give up territories, because it will be much more difficult to win them back later. This suggests that there is confidence that the Ukrainian army can now do this and the losses we are suffering are justified. It's not easy – they are dug in and will take not one step back, but there is a reasonable strategic necessity behind this.

As for Crimea and one of the statements in the course of this interview, I realized for myself that regarding this operation that is “already on the way, but you aren’t seeing it yet,” there is a high probability that we are talking about an operation aimed at Crimea. I'm not saying that this will be an entry into the Crimea, but the main goal of this operation is to prepare for the subsequent de-occupation of the peninsula. Judging by what Zaluzhnyy said, one can focus on, if not the establishment of control over the territory, then the establishment of fire control over the lines of communication between the Crimea and the continental territory of Russia. Just cutting off these lines of communication would provide Ukraine with huge strategic advantages, and this fits into the concept of the strategy that was successfully applied both on the Kherson front and on others where Ukraine conducted successful counter-offensive operations.

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