"Ukraine has learnt a lot from the 44-day war"
General Romanenko hosted by Caliber.Az
INTERVIEWS 25 May 2023 - 16:09
Caliber.Az had a conversation with Igor Romanenko, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant-General.
- The full-scale Russian-Ukrainian war has been going on for 15 months now and it is almost clear that Russia has not achieved any of its initially stated goals. Russian army casualties, according to various estimates, have exceeded the 200,000 mark, but there have been not only no mass protests but no meaningful protests at all. How do you think this can be explained, is there any limit to manpower losses after which people rise to protest and maybe Russians will also start to actively voice the complaint?
- In my opinion, the question is not only about the losses of the Russian army, although they are enormous both in manpower and equipment, but also about the propaganda that has infected Russian society. For more than 20 years, thanks to the huge funds invested in this propaganda, Russians have developed the habit of accepting as true all the primitive lies that are poured down onto people from TV screens. The level of freedom of speech in Russia is almost zero and therefore an alternative viewpoint on events in Ukraine and the world is something inaccessible to most Russians, even in the age of the internet. However, changes in Russian attitudes are possible, not only because of even greater losses in manpower but also because of ever more defeats on the frontline. The results of the Ukrainian army's offensive and counteroffensive are very important.
Add to this the fact that events in the Belgorod region of Russia are already on the horizon. Earlier the same thing happened in another Russian oblast. I predict that such situations will arise in the future in different Russian regions. Thus, there will be a whole system of influence on the mindset of citizens of the Russian Federation. This is the only way to create an environment for mass protests and riots.
- That is what I wanted to talk about. Undoubtedly, the most notable event of recent days has been the invasion of the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation from Ukraine by those who present themselves as the "Freedom of Russia" Army and the "Russian Volunteer Corps" (RVC). Do you have any information about who these people are and what their real aims and capabilities are?
- The volunteers who have invaded Russia are its citizens, those who disagree with the actions of the Russian leadership. They consider the Russian authorities illegitimate and intend to change the situation. Such a development is in the interests of Ukraine and, as they used to say in Soviet times, all of progressive humanity. Accordingly, Ukraine should support this movement, which I hope will expand, and gain more coverage. The reason for this prediction is that there is a growing global outrage at the actions of Russia, which has unleashed the biggest war in Europe since World War II and which openly announces plans to invade European countries other than Ukraine.
- How do you assess the situation in Bakhmut, is it possible that the Wagner PMC will still be defeated there?
- The Wagnerians have actually captured Bakhmut, but the Ukrainian self-defence troops are fighting on the flanks. If the capabilities of the Ukrainian military units, which hold these flanks, are built up, there is a prospect of operational encirclement of Bakhmut. Considering that the primary task of the Ukrainian army is to prepare for counteroffensive actions, I think that the AFU General Staff will find rational, asymmetric solutions to ensure that both Bakhmut and Soledar are liberated.
- The other day, the media reported that the USA and its allies were planning to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed this information. According to him, it is still unclear when and how many planes will be provided, but they will definitely not be in a future counterattack by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. How many F-16 fighters do you think Ukraine will eventually receive and will they still be used in the Ukrainian army's counteroffensive?
- Indeed, there is a serious change in the position of Ukraine's allies, first of all the Americans on the issue of providing our country with F-16 fighters. The US position is decisive because they produce and export these fighters. It is Washington that agrees to transfer F-16s to this or that country. I have to note that now it is similar to the situation with Abrams, one of the best tanks in the world. There is consent to its transfer to Ukraine, but there are no such tanks in Ukraine yet. I should also note that White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan belongs to the category of those who advocate victory for Ukraine, but in the distant future and always fear - "whatever may come of it". In any case, the political and military leadership of Ukraine is doing everything possible to bring closer the moment of the F-16 fighters' transfer to our country.
It is clear that offensive and counteroffensive actions by the Ukrainian army can only be effective if it has air superiority over the Russians. After all, Russia is clearly superior to Ukraine in terms of aviation, artillery, missile capabilities, and manpower. Only thanks to the high level of patriotism, motivation, and professionalism of our military personnel, who use modern Western weapons, can such results be achieved as those that took place during the Kharkiv counter-offensive operation, as well as in the Kherson direction.
- Do you agree with the statement that Ukraine has only one chance for a successful counteroffensive, after which its allies will begin to induce official Kyiv to sign a peace treaty with Russia?
- All the talk about Ukraine having only one chance for a successful counter-offensive is led by apologists for the Russian approach, i.e. to freeze the conflict. Ukraine, of course, will never agree to this. I am convinced that Ukrainian troops will conduct counter-offensive operations until all Russian-occupied territories of our country are fully liberated. I am also convinced that all the necessary work for this is ongoing and will continue in the diplomatic direction.
- Did you follow the course of the 44-day Armenia-Azerbaijan war in Karabakh? What is the main experience of this war that Ukraine could use now, in the war with Russia?
- Of course, as a person, who gave 40 years of his life to the armed forces, as a military expert I studied the experience of the 44-day Armenia-Azerbaijan war in Karabakh. We have learnt a lot from that war. In particular, we are talking about the use of Bayraktars in combat operations. The experience of Azerbaijan was very important for us in terms of systematic preparation for the war, providing the army with everything necessary for the successful implementation of the assigned task. And judging by the results of the actions of the Ukrainian army, which we already have and which we will all see in the future, we can say that the experience of Azerbaijan has been successfully adopted. This is from the military point of view. And from the political and ideological point of view, the example of the Azerbaijani people, who rallied for victory, for the restoration of the territorial integrity of their state, and for freedom, is important. The Azerbaijani leadership, represented by President Ilham Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan have prevented the attempts of external forces, allies of Armenia, which tried to legitimize the occupation of 20% of the country. You have already won, and glory to the heroes of Azerbaijan! Our victory is ahead. We are doing everything to bring it closer and glory to the heroes of Ukraine, including the ethnic Azerbaijanis who are fighting in the ranks of the AFU.
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