Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, has said his troops are on “active defense” as Ukrainian forces are no longer attempting to gain territory after the failed counteroffensive.
“Our goals remain unchanged: holding our positions … exhausting the enemy by inflicting maximum losses,” Syrskyi told Reuters last week.
The Ukrainian commander said that Russian forces were pressing in multiple areas along the 600-mile front with the aim of taking full control of the Donbas. He said Ukrainian forces were launching small counterattacks to keep Russian forces on their toes, which he described as “active defense.”
When Ukraine first launched its counteroffensive in June 2023, it was clear they would not have much success, based on a US intelligence assessment leaked on Discord and media reports at the time. But it’s become much more apparent since the fall when Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny labeled the war a “stalemate” and said there would be no “deep and beautiful breakthrough.”
Ukraine is now facing a significant manpower shortage and is struggling to agree on a new mobilization law. Western aid is also drying up as Congress has yet to authorize over $60 billion in additional spending on the proxy war that President Biden has requested.
Despite the situation, Ukrainian political leadership is still insisting Ukraine can win. Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on Sunday that Kyiv has not given up on its goal to restore the “1991 borders,” which would involve kicking Russia out of all the territory it’s captured since February 2022, as well as Crimea, which has been under Russian control and governance since 2014.