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28 Mar, 2024 15:57

NATO general warns of Russian ‘trap’ for Ukraine

There are no good options for Kiev, a retired French general has said
NATO general warns of Russian ‘trap’ for Ukraine

Moscow has forced Kiev to choose between losing men or territory, according to retired French General Jerome Pellistrandi, the editor-in-chief of the Revue Defense Nationale.

In an interview for the French outlet La Depeche published on Wednesday, Pellistrandi pointed out that Russian forces have made advances ever since the Ukrainians’ chaotic retreat from Avdeevka in mid-February, and are now approaching Chasov Yar and Kharkov.

“Moscow has in fact presented a tactical dilemma to the Ukrainian command, forcing it to choose between protecting territory at the risk of taking significant losses, or retreating and thus giving up ground,” Pellistrandi said.

In addition to advances west of Avdeevka, Russian troops recently took the town of Krasnoe (known in Ukraine as Ivanivske), west of Artyomovsk (Bakhmut), the general noted. 

“This reflects this desire to exhaust the enemy,” he said. “Moscow knows very well that Kiev lacks [artillery] shells and, by relentlessly shelling these territories, [President Vladimir] Putin is ultimately preventing the Ukrainians from rebuilding their defenses. This is a way of forcing them to give up ground and exhaust their stock of weapons.”

Recent remarks by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu seem to line up with Pellistrandi’s analysis. Speaking to a defense panel last week, Shoigu said the Russian military is pushing the Ukrainians back and not allowing them to fortify new defensive positions. He also estimated Ukraine’s casualties since the beginning of the year at 71,000 men and 11,000 pieces of equipment.

According to Pellistrandi, Russian troops are aiming for both Chasov Yar and Kramatorsk, a key crossroads for Ukrainian logistics in Donbass. Its loss would be “dramatic” for Kiev and pose “serious strategic and logistical difficulties,” he said.

Kharkov also came under heavy bombardment last week, Pellistrandi said, adding that Ukraine is on the defensive along the entire front and urgently needs more ammunition.

Revue Defense Nationale is considered France’s preeminent military publication. Founded in 1939, it is traditionally led by a general officer. Pellistrandi has been editor-in-chief since 2014. In 2022, he also joined the French outlet BFMTV as a military expert.