Russian official admitted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military is “playing catch up” against Ukraine during a recent appearance on Russian state TV.
Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine more than nine months earlier in February, hoping for a quick victory against his Eastern European neighbor. However, Ukraine responded with a stronger-than-anticipated defense effort, bolstered by Western military aid, that has prevented Moscow from making substantial military gains.
Andrei Gurulyov, a member of the state Duma and ex-general of the Russian military, acknowledged Moscow’s struggles while speaking on Russian state TV. Video of the exchange was translated and posted to Twitter by BBC reporter Francis Scarr on Sunday.
“There are things which are undeniable. We are well aware that they’ve been supplying things to Ukraine,” Gurulyov said, referring to the Ukraine’s Western allies. “It started with helmets and body armor. Then it was firearms, ammunition, and after that howitzers.”
He griped about Ukraine receiving military aid from the West—as the Kremlin has repeatedly spoken out against this assistance—that has been attributed to turning the tide of the war in favor of the Ukrainians.
“Next, HIMARS, and now Patriot systems. Next will be Abrams tanks or Leopards. It doesn’t matter. It will all arrive at some point,” Gurulyov said. “All of that is going to arrive.”
After months of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleading with U.S. officials to send longer-range weapons, the Biden administration appears poised to provide Ukraine with Patriot systems. These advanced surface-to-air-missiles are considered one of the most capable weapons at knocking out incoming ballistic and cruise missiles. Experts expect the system will be a significant boost for Ukraine. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned the missiles could lead to “an escalation of the conflict” during a press conference last week.
Gurulyov lamented that Russia’s military leaders are often stuck playing “catch up” whenever Ukraine receives new weapons, rather than already having a strategy in place to combat these missile systems.
“Unfortunately, in this regard, we’re playing catch up. We’re on the defensive. We wait for them to bring something and then work out how to fight against it. That’s the situation, isn’t it? That’s how it is, unfortunately,” he said.
Robert English, professor of international relations at the University of Southern California, told Newsweek on Sunday that too many Russians are aware of their military’s blunders for officials to “keep lying” about the reality of the conflict.
“So admitting that the Russian military has bogged down and suffered major defeats is unavoidable. And that’s particularly so if the Kremlin want to prepare their people for more months of war. Paradoxically, to keep public support for more sacrifice, they must admit to the huge sacrifices already made. It may not work, but they have to try,” English said in a written statement.
Gurulyov’s remarks indicate that Russia’s invasion continues to falter.
Throughout the conflict, reports have emerged about Russia struggling to maintain motivated, well-trained forces. Ukraine said this week that more than 1 million Russian soldiers had called a surrender hotline as the death toll of Russian troops approaches 100,000. As Russia struggles to take new Ukrainian territory, its military has turned to airstrikes against civilian infrastructure ahead of winter.
Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired U.S. Army general, said during an MSNBC appearance on Friday that Putin has already strategically lost the war. “Operationally they’re not able to deal essentially with a very active, aggressive Ukrainian military force,” he said.
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