Retired US General McCaffrey says “Ukraine being battered to death by Russia”

Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher

Retired US General Barry McCaffrey said in an interview with MSNBC on December 23 that the Ukrainian army has suffered huge losses to the Russians and is in a vulnerable position, and for this reason he questioned why his country must provide more weapons. This is despite further issues being raised on whether Ukraine can win the war in light of a new peace plan proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Ukraine is suffering huge losses and is in great danger,” McCaffrey said to MSNBC, adding in a follow up tweet: “Ukraine cannot get to conflict termination until they can conclusively defeat the Russian Army in the field. Time to relook US and NATO policy. Ukraine being battered to death by Russian drones, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles.”

According to the retired general, a Patriot anti-aircraft missile battery will not change the situation on the ground due to the overwhelming superiority of the Russian army in air and artillery. His suggestion to try and influence the balance of power was for the US to supply Ukraine with M1 Abrams main battle tanks and ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles.

Washington and its allies have provided military equipment worth billions of dollars to the Ukrainian army since Russia launched its military operation in February 2022, and in doing so is prolonging the conflict. As the Russian Ministry of Defence says, foreign weapons depots will become legitimate targets. In this way, McCaffrey is promoting a waste of taxpayers’ money and NATO members defence equipment stocks as they will be immediately destroyed by the Russians.

This is especially problematic as the Ukrainian army is effectively in a stalemate and it may be too late to resupply it to useful effect, at least according to the conclusions of New York Times journalists Julian Barnes, Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt.

According to the article: “Over the past six months, Ukrainian forces have slowed Russia’s advance in the Donbas in the east, reclaimed a large swath of land in the northeast, and gained control of Kherson, a major southern city. But the wins came with a heavy cost: thousands of Ukrainian soldiers killed and the expenditure of immense amounts of ammunition, in particular artillery rounds. In fact, throughout much of the year, Ukraine fired far more rounds of artillery in a week than the United States could produce in a month.”

Effectively, the article acknowledges that the US military industrial complex is incapable of producing weapons needed for Ukraine to gain advantage on the battlefield in a timely manner.

The American newspaper also noted Russian military tactics. They emphasized that the Commander of the Joint Forces Group, Sergei Surovikin, is “executing complicated military operations more efficiently” and that it will be more “difficult for Ukraine to retake the huge swaths of territory it lost this year.”

Zelensky arrived in Washington only days before Christmas and held talks with his American counterpart Joe Biden and addressed Congress. Following this, the White House announced a new $1.85 billion military aid package for Ukraine. In particular, the package includes a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, 500 precision-guided artillery shells, 37 Cougar armoured vehicles, mines, grenade launchers and small arms.

None-the-less, another NYT article had to acknowledge that “Zelensky’s weapons wish list goes mostly unfulfilled on trip to Washington.” This humiliates the request from Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, who recently in a tweet published his country’s “My Christmas Wishlist.” Although Biden approved a Patriot battery from the list, Washington declined to offer or help provide the others, including battle tanks and long-range missiles.

At the same time, according to French newspaper Tribune, Kiev will find battlefield success difficult due to major losses in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“In fact, with such statistics, the Ukrainian armed forces will never be able to overthrow Russia,” the article wrote.

The article noted that the West will soon have to “start with the facts instead of flattering the nationalist fantasies” of Kiev. According to the French outlet, at some point, Washington will ask Kiev to “put an end to all this.”

At the same time though, during his visit to Washington, Zelensky agreed with Biden on a ten-point proposal for peace, which will include negotiations with Russia, but under their terms. These conditions will likely include unrealistic demands, such as the return of Crimea and Donbass to Ukraine. However, Russia will never agree to such proposals.

The Wall Street Journal announced, citing sources in European and Ukrainian diplomatic circles, that Zelensky’s associates are finalizing the ten-point plan for a peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine and that the plan should be presented in February. This demonstrates that very heavy delusions still exist in Kiev as there is still a persistent belief that Russia will surrender the territories it liberated.

As seen by recent Western media articles though, a begrudging acknowledgement that Ukraine cannot win the war is beginning to consolidate. This will likely deepen as Westerners become fatigued by the war as their own lives are being affected with rising costs.

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