Ex-Zelensky aide calls for new government in Ukraine
Ukraine’s counteroffensive has failed, its troops have built no defensive lines, and President Vladimir Zelensky has allowed corruption and incompetence to flourish, former adviser Aleksey Arestovich said on Saturday. New elections are the only way out of the impasse, he argued.
Zelensky’s focus on defending the Donbass city of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine) at all costs earlier this year drained men and resources that could have been sent south to participate in the summer counteroffensive against Russian forces, Arestovich wrote on Telegram.
With weather conditions deteriorating, the counteroffensive has now halted. The four-month operation cost Ukraine 90,000 men (according to Russian figures), and resulted in extremely minimal territorial gains for Kiev. Ukraine has achieved “nothing,” and Russian troops have switched to offensive operations along the entire front, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the UN Security Council on Friday.
With the roles reversed and the Ukrainians now defending, Arestovich noted that the Ukrainian military has not constructed defensive fortifications like those set up by Russia before the Ukrainian offensive.
“Such structures would dramatically increase the combat stability of our troops, inflict even greater losses on the Russians, reduce the load on our forces and allow some of them to be redirected to offensive areas,” he wrote, adding that “this was not done, and this is our second strategic mistake.”
Away from the battlefield, Arestovich said Russia is increasing its defense spending, stepping up the production of armaments, and reaching out to its friends and partners in the Global South.
Ukraine, by contrast, “suppresses business, civil liberties and political competitors, quarrels with neighbors and key partners, and encourages corruption.”
“Our leadership, in my assessment, exhausted the limits of its competence a long time ago,” he wrote. In order to pull the country out of its current “dead end,” he urged Zelensky’s government to abandon its earlier decision not to hold elections until after the conflict, and accept that its goal of retaking Crimea and restoring Ukraine’s 1991 borders will not happen, despite the “blood, sweat, and tears” of the Ukrainian people.
Although Arestovich was initially optimistic about the counteroffensive’s chances of success, he has offered a series of increasingly grim predictions of the country’s future in recent months. He predicted in August that an invasion of Crimea would cost 200,000 Ukrainian lives, and forecast in September that the conflict could drag on until 2035.