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Russian offensive: “Militarily, Ukraine is alone” and “its capacity is limited” deciphers General Trinquand

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The swing into the war in Ukraine, analyzed by General Dominique Trinquand, former head of the French military mission to the UN.

How do you analyze the evolution of the situation in Ukraine with the offensive launched Thursday by Russia?

What is happening now was predictable, President Putin was very clear: for him, Ukraine does not exist. He wants to both disarm it and, he says, “denazify” it, which shows what intellectual state he is in.

Given these elements, there are two options. It can thus continue to carry out strikes in depth, destruction of command centers, anti-aircraft armament, ammunition stocks and aviation. And there is not much aviation in Ukraine. With, then, catches on the ground. I can see it taking in particular the areas north of the Sea of ​​Azov between the Crimea and the Donbass. It’s his first and most limited option, even though it’s already huge.

The other option is to go as far as Kiev, but I think that this option will inevitably lead to a withdrawal, since he will not be able to occupy Ukraine. He will have to withdraw, and the sooner the better, if he does not want to bring too many coffins back to Russia.

But both options can completely break Ukraine and make it hardly viable, its economy is already in bad shape, the population already tended to go to work in Poland or further west, so it will have it all the more . He will have succeeded in breaking up Ukraine.

Can this offensive be long and can we fear many human losses?

If he chose the first option, it can be processed in a week. In any case, he will have achieved all the objectives he wants to achieve in this period of time. If he goes down the second path, which is extremely dangerous, I don’t know how long it can last, but there can be a lot of casualties, yes.

What is Putin really looking for?

We are on two different planets. President Putin has never digested what happened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he has never digested the demotion of Russia, so he seeks to reconnect with the greatness of Russia following an intellectual scheme that dates from the 19th or 20th century, not the 21st century.

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Is he trying to overthrow power in Ukraine?

Yes, like in Belarus, he wants governments on his side so that he can do whatever he wants in those countries and ensure the remote protection of Russia.

What is Ukraine’s capacity to resist this offensive?

Faced with the current offensive, Ukraine’s capacity is very limited. It has rebuilt its army since 2014, but not to the extent that it can withstand this attack from Russia. On the other hand, it has a capacity to resist over time, to cause losses to Russia.

Behind the sanctions, the political incantations, isn’t Ukraine alone today? Who will defend her on the field?

You are right, militarily, she is alone because NATO will not engage in Ukraine, she is not part of it, article 5 (providing for solidarity from other countries if a member of NATO is attacked , Ed ) therefore does not apply.

Moreover, unlike President Putin who, after the sinking of the Kursk in 2000 realized the state of decay of his army and for twenty years reinvested to rebuild the Russian army, by showing his capacities in Syria, his capabilities today, many countries, in Europe in particular, have disarmed themselves. To take only the case of France, it is only over the last five years that the defense budgets have finally risen.

European countries will have to take responsibility for their rearmament, because today it’s Ukraine, why tomorrow it won’t be the Baltic countries, which were Russian before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When we listen to the speech given earlier this week by Putin, it’s frightening, we are in a logic that we no longer dared to imagine.

How is this a turning point for Europe and in our lives, as Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday?

Europe imagined that war was no longer possible in Europe, after Yugoslavia, everyone thought it was over. Now, war is present in Europe today. A government uses force to impose its vision of the world. This is a real turning point in international relations.

In our own lives, we will also have to draw conclusions from this, because when I hear presidential programs that have 3% of GDP, at 70 billion, whereas today we are at 41 billion for the defense budget, the money has to be sought elsewhere.

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The problem is not only French, it is European, we are an extremely rich, extremely privileged area, it is sometimes necessary to relearn how to make sacrifices in order to be able to defend this freedom which is dear to us. Europe’s security is not directly threatened immediately, but it is in the long term because we can clearly see that we are facing an ideology opposed to ours.

Are we at the beginning of a world war?

Until the 1990s, I was part of it, we were preparing for the Third World War. We won it without leading it because the Russians were disarmed at the time before the power that had been put before them.

Today, we speak of the fourth world war, it is of a completely different order. We have before our eyes the use of force, but through disinformation on social networks, through cyberattacks, Russia is also capable of attacking and neutralizing a certain number of our vital systems, electricity, water, etc. Not to mention the war in space. It is not tomorrow that there will be Russian divisions on the Champs-Elysées, we no longer attack only with tanks, but Putin has shown that he will lead this war.

Is there anything that can influence Putin, slow him down, or even set him back?

I do not know. After spending five hours with Putin in Moscow, Emmanuel Macron said immediately on leaving to people who were there “he has changed a lot”. For two years, President Putin has been cloistered because of the Covid and we know the psychological effect that this can have on a certain number of people.

We also saw the way he treats his subordinates, they tremble. A bit like everyone trembled in front of Stalin. I think it will be very difficult to influence him.

But Russia can change and we must not despair of the Russian people and their ability to understand after a while that they are on the wrong path.

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