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25 Dec, 2023 02:06

Ukrainians face a ‘terrible winter’ – retired French general

A former chief of staff for France’s air force has warned that Kiev will only be able to defend its current positions, “at best”
Ukrainians face a ‘terrible winter’ – retired French general

A retired French general and former NATO commander has painted a chilling picture of Ukraine’s prospects over the next several months in its conflict with Russia, saying the best that Kiev and its Western sponsors can hope for is to avoid losing further ground this winter.

“The Ukrainians are going to experience a terrible winter,” Jean-Paul Palomeros, ex-chief of staff for the French Air Force, said on Friday in an interview with online broadcaster Franceinfo. “We must not hide our eyes. At best, they will be able to defend the positions they currently have. We must not hope for better.”

Palomeros, who served as one of NATO’s two strategic commanders after leaving the French Air Force in 2012, argued that European nations must boost their aid to Ukraine. “Europeans must invest better and more if they want to be able to support the war effort in Ukraine,” he said. “For the moment, this is not the case.”

The retired general made his comments as French President Emmanuel Macron visited France’s troops in Jordan, where he vowed to continue supporting Ukraine. “We cannot let Russia win,” the French leader said. 

However, Macron admitted in an interview on Wednesday with broadcaster France 5 that the US and its European allies had failed to cripple Russia’s economy through sanctions. He also acknowledged that an uncertain political situation in the US was clouding the outlook for Ukraine’s prospects.

The latest round of European aid for Ukraine failed to pass earlier this month at the EU summit in Brussels, as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban voted down the bloc’s €50 billion ($54 billion) pledge. Meanwhile, a $60 billion US aid proposal for Kiev has stalled in Washington, where Republican lawmakers have opposed giving more money until Kiev and its backers come up with a clear victory strategy. US President Joe Biden’s administration has warned that without congressional approval, funding for Washington’s aid to Ukraine will run out at the end of this month.

Palomeros lamented the increasing struggles in the West to provide Ukraine the support that it needs. “The message is clear,” he said. “Now we must match words with actions.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg conceded in an interview earlier this month that Ukraine had failed to achieve any battlefield breakthroughs during its long-awaited counteroffensive. “We have to be prepared for bad news,” he said of the outlook for Kiev. “Wars move in phases, but we must stand by Ukraine in good and in bad times alike.”