Espreso. Global

War with Russia needs new "gunpowder" — military expert Serhiy Zgurets

3 November, 2023 Friday

Both sides have reached the level of technology that has driven Ukraine and Russia into a deadlock on the battlefield with parity of capabilities at the moment

A new phase of the war

The war with Russia is entering a new phase and turning into a positional war. De facto, both sides have reached the level of technology that has brought Ukraine and Russia to a standstill on the battlefield with parity of capabilities at the moment. But this state of affairs carries enormous risks for the Ukrainian army and our state, as it allows Russia to restore its potential and threaten Ukraine's existence again.

Now our army needs a new technological leap. This is what Valeriy Zaluzhnyi talks about in an interview with the Economist. There is an emotional component to this interview and an extremely realistic view of things that no one else but Zaluzhnyi, given his position and the amount of information he has about the situation at the front, could express. He says that there will most likely not be a deep and beautiful breakthrough, but we cannot let the war settle in the trenches. The biggest risk of trench warfare is that it can drag on for years and exhaust the Ukrainian state, Zaluzhnyi says. What to do then? Along with Zaluzhnyi's interview, the Economist also published his long essay titled "The Modern Positional War and How to Win It."

This is an important work because it touches on key areas of confrontation with the enemy and identifies ways to get out of the trap of this protracted war of attrition. According to Zaluzhnyi's estimates, Ukraine needs: first, air superiority, and this means not so much manned aircraft as drones of various purposes and in various numbers. The second is improved electronic warfare equipment. The third is to strengthen counter-battery capabilities. The fourth is new demining technologies. The fifth is the ability to mobilize and train more people. Each of these five areas is based on the current state and projects, taking into account what Russia has and will have, what we already have, and what we still need to do. Zaluzhnyi believes that this war cannot be won with weapons of the previous generation and outdated methods. He says that the longer the war lasts, the harder it will be to continue. So we need to look for technological solutions, we need to find a new “gunpowder,” as Zaluzhnyi says, quickly master it, and use it for a quick victory. Otherwise, sooner or later, we will find that we simply do not have enough people to fight, says the Commander-in-Chief.

In my opinion, this is a new conscious point for the crystallization of a new strategy for Ukraine to see the war in the near future and to take appropriate actions and plans based on a more realistic perception of threats and our capabilities.

Mykhailo Samus, military expert, director of the New Geopolitics Research Network, deputy director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, noted that this article is a summary of the results of 2023 with the recognition of mistakes that were made. Zaluzhnyi says that the calculations for the offensive did not materialize. Of course, our Western partners have not yet provided us with everything needed. There is a clear transformation in General Zaluzhnyi's views. He now looks at the war differently and speaks of a technological breakthrough.

Russia's main task is to prevent a breakthrough by Ukraine on the southern front in 2024, to freeze the front and, waiting for Trump, to offer him to stop helping Ukraine in order to force Kyiv to sign some new agreement. Our task is the opposite: to prevent Ukraine from being drawn into a positional war, and this requires a technological breakthrough. Zaluzhnyi noted that we have reached parity with Russia. To make a breakthrough, we need to combine everything we have and find new approaches. For example, the use of artificial intelligence. In this article, General Zaluzhnyi appeals to the Ukrainian nation, to Ukrainian engineers, statesmen, IT specialists, and military personnel that we must combine the technologies provided by our allies and our own developments. By integrating technologies, we will achieve a technological breakthrough. This article is more of an appeal to us than to our partners.

Samus noted that Zaluzhnyi's article is a Western civilized approach, when the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces brings problematic issues to public discussion. Zaluzhnyi's article clearly shows that the Ukrainian Armed Forces command and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief clearly understand the situation and the directions that Ukraine needs to take to achieve victory. This article will strengthen Ukraine's position.

Ukraine's State Audit Service conclusions hinder the development of defense enterprises

Next, let's talk about our defense industry, because in his essay, General Zaluzhnyi also mentions our defense industry and the importance of developing enterprises. In particular, those industries that develop asymmetric weapons and missile weapons. At the same time, these enterprises themselves are trapped, because the situation related to the conclusions of the State Audit Service of Ukraine (SASU) is still in effect, when these enterprises are now forced to respond to allegations of irrational use of profits. Now the question arises as to further bureaucratic red tape, which has been going on for six months in a row.

Vitaliy Nemilostivyi, head of the All-Ukrainian Association of Employers of Machine Builders of Ukraine, said that he had met with the Deputy Minister of Defense, where the official confirmed the Defense Ministry's position that enterprises have the right to make profits. Moreover, the Defense Ministry itself filed a lawsuit, disagreeing with the SASU's conclusions. All Ukrainian laws allow Ukrainian companies to make a profit. Some government resolutions that were in effect from the beginning of the full-scale invasion and are still in effect today also allow for profit. There are explanations from the Ministry of Economy separately for the SASU and separately for the Ministry of Defense, which confirm the position that enterprises have the right to make a profit.

According to the head of the All-Ukrainian Association of Machine-Building Employers of Ukraine, the SASU should have withdrawn its act long ago and apologized to everyone. But, unfortunately, they don't do that, so the government, implementing the resolution of the Verkhovna Rada adopted by 306 votes, is now developing another resolution stating that enterprises have the right to make profits.

Nemilostivyi added that today there are already examples of companies being visited by tax inspectors with counter-checks based on the SASU act and orders and demanding to see the drawings. They ask for design documentation, for example, for missiles. When asked why the SASU needs the drawings and design documentation, there is no proper answer so far. They want to check the availability of production facilities at enterprises that were bombed twice. None of this is within the SASU's authority, but for some reason it is happening. We have collected all the documents so that the relevant authorities can understand why the SASU is interested in, for example, secret drawings.

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