The U.S. and its allies continue to believe in Ukraine, and our fears about the American public’s reaction to a protracted war or arms supplies are unfounded. So says Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and retired Brig. Gen. Mark Arnold.
In an exclusive interview for the Channel 24 he spoke about the scenarios for the end of the war, the beginning of the end of the Putin regime and suggested a breakthrough opportunity to defeat Russia quickly, beginning a new era of Ukrainian army and NATO development.
Recommendations for Ukrainians.
I’ll start with some broader questions. Based on your experience, what features of Russia’s military campaign should Ukrainians pay attention to?
My experience is 39 years in the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Forces more specifically, I am a retired Brigadier General. I believe that Ukrainians have experienced the worst, the harshest and brutal war campaign since the II World War.
And in terms of what they should focus on, or pay attention, rather answering your question. Ukrainian citizens, who are on the areas of frontline combat should leave and evacuate to safer territories until the invader will be defeated.
With regard to military action, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are already conducting a deep battle, which is a necessary and important step toward a great victory. I can talk about it later. It means attacking Russian supply lines and command centers all along the front line and Russian border.
You said, that you can go deeper into some details. But how can we influence the situation in the near future? People are dying now, for example, there is no time to wait for the delivery of weapons.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces do not need advice; they know what to do. Ukraine needs to focus on the deep battle. And they began to do that with some modern weapons from allies. That means a destruction of transportation hubs, fuel supplies and command centers.
You know that we can only operate on Ukrainian territory. This is one of the conditions for the supply of weapons. But there is another nuance that I would like to point out. Moscow’s goal is to dismantle Ukraine. Therefore, there are only two options for ending this war. Either Ukraine will cease to exist and will be absorbed by Russia, or Ukraine will win, and the Russian Federation will be forced to fulfill the legal demands of Ukraine and the international community. What kind of option will the Western establishment choose, and what exactly should the West do for it?
When we talk about the way the Western establishment chooses, Western governments have already demonstrated what path they have chosen. They have chosen to support Ukraine with weapons with a purpose of defeating Russia in Ukraine. Ukraine must win this war and kick the Russians out of Ukraine. Western nations leaders know that any success that Russia has in this “special military operation” will resulting in more Russian aggression.
How to accelerate the victory of Ukraine?
There are countries that historically understand the essence of Russia (Baltic countries, Poland, Moldova, other countries occupied by the USSR). On the opposite, we have, for example, Germany, where there are discussions about rising prices and the energy crisis.
Well, Germany, for example, they had concerns about gas supplies from Russia, but the West will pull through this. We will manage. We will figure this out. Perhaps there are politicians that talk about “freezing” the war in Ukraine, not supplying the war. Such thoughts are not mainstream politics in the West. I plead with Ukrainians, not let this trouble you too much.
Freezing the war in Ukraine means ceasefire. It will be only temporary, Russia will not stop until it defeats Ukraine. Yes, there are a few politicians who like to “freeze”, but senior politicians in the West and senior leaders in the West know the truth. They know that any success that Russia will have will only lead to more aggression and destabilize governments in the US, Britain, France, Germany.
It will begin with cyberattacks, information operations and Russian attempts to create civil wars within the nations. That motivation will keep the West supplying Ukraine with weapons.
But going back to your experience, one Ukrainian lawyer, who was born there and now fights for Ukraine, once said that the USSR could not withstand the war in Afghanistan and collapsed, and the same fate may await Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine. What do you think of this scenario, and do you believe that Russia has drawn any conclusions?
Definitely, they have. When Russia will lose the war against Ukraine, Putin will be removed from power, reforms will begin. Putin started this war with the purpose of keeping his political power in Russia, that was his primary goal.
When a dictator starts a war, he mobilizes a propaganda machine and popularity increases. Putin’s support from Russian people will decline when he loses the war. When popularity declines, the oligarchs will then end their support. Putin knows it very well. That is why he will continue the war in Ukraine. Even if a ceasefire occurs, it could only be temporary. Putin will not allow Ukraine to have time to transform the military with modern Western weapons, NATO military doctrine and training.
So you don’t think a real ceasefire is possible anytime soon?
Even if a temporary ceasefire occurs, it will be because Putin wants to re-form his military. But that won’t last long, and he won’t give Ukraine time to rearm with modern weapons. He will attack again.
But you think that Putin is not the only problem because his entourage is corrupt too. And even with our dreams of his death and all the news about his illness – Russia is not going to get out of this imperial story that easily.
I don’t see that happening, even if it could be a perfect outcome. But I believe that Putin’s Security forces, perhaps stronger than a Russian army. His power based on support from Russians. Like I said, if Ukraine wins this war, the people will stop supporting him. Then oligarchs will stop supporting him. And I am sure they already have replaced him in mind.
The ranking of AFU and Joining NATO
It is obvious that after the end of the war, the Ukrainian army will be one of the most powerful in Europe and the first on the continent in terms of combat training. Shouldn’t we look to the future now and build a security concept in the region, if not around Ukraine, then with its maximum involvement? Because it will no longer be possible to ignore Ukraine’s ability to stand guard over peace.
I agree, we should look to the future that includes Ukraine as a valuable partner in NATO, after this war ends with Ukraine’s victory over Russia. After Ukraine will win or if the war continues, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will slowly transform from the Soviet era system and Soviet doctrine into an army with modern weapons from the West. That should be a long military objective as well as free and democratic Ukraine, and it is Putin’s nightmare.
I hope that will happen. But continuing on the topic of allies, what is the sentiment in the US right now? We are reading reports that some US politicians are already trying to raise the issue of corruption and reforms in Ukraine, trying to score points before midterm elections in the fall.
Certainly, there are some politicians in the U.S. and in Germany and other places… But they are not senior government leaders. At least here in U.S., it is not. Most of the politicians in the U.S. and most citizens have deep sympathy for the suffering that Ukraine is going through due to Putin’s war. This is have not changed during past five months. Yes, there have been political arguments, like always there are arguments during every election.
Support for Ukraine
As a citizen of U.S., do you still see the same support for Ukraine?
I see Ukrainian flags on people’s houses in the area where I live. I see support of American citizens on street demonstrations, and I hear it in my daily conversations. Most U.S. politicians and people support Ukraine.
I ask because we are afraid that we are losing attention. We see that on the covers of important media and in the daily news, the topic of Ukraine is brought up by other challenges…
So that is what we’re doing right now. Increasing the public’s attention. Trust me, there is a deep sympathy and the real risk of protracted war in Ukraine. I served in several campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the American public was supportive during the initial stages. But America and the West won’t endure a long war in Ukraine. It needs to come to a relatively quick end and at least in the next months or two years.
Yes, but it requires more weapons… Could NATO have a problem with necessary supplies of multiple rocket launchers? Or are there some politics behind it? If this is the politician’s position, what is it aimed at?
I see a strategic transformation within the NATO in the next 5 months. It is in the news. Sweden and Finland will be joining NATO at some point this year, NATO has declared that Russia as a primary threat. NATO members are beginning to largely increase their budgets in defense defense spending for these reasons.
The U.S. and its partners have given a lot of weapons to Ukraine. And it’s restrained by the need to protect our own nations. Western nations, including U.S. have not grown their defense industry to wartime levels. The defense industry in Europe and the US is still in peacetime capacity. With a lack of sophisticated weapons and sophisticated ammunition for a long war. So the number of weapons is not really due to any political policy.
I will lead you in this interview to another point that I’d like to make. The type of weapons that have been a matter of policy is something that I disagree with. Ukraine needs more weapons to fight that deep battle, as I mentioned earlier. That’s the destruction of Russian supply depots, transportation hubs, fuel supplies, and Russian command centers. And like I said earlier, yes, fuel production and supplies within Russia. So weapons that Ukraine needs should include long-range drones such as the U.S.-made MQ-9 Reaper drones that are armed with heavy weapons and MLRS capable of striking targets on the Russian border and into Russia and beyond Crimea. And I believe that at some point the US will provide Ukraine with fighter aircraft and pilot training.
Yes, we are already seeing the progress that HIMARS brings. And as for drones, how can we provide that kind of supply?
It is something that U.S. government has to agreed to provide to Ukraine – very sophisticated and the U.S. protects that technology. Which is perhaps why they have not provided that to Ukraine, but it’s a necessary part of the arsenal.
I published an article in a network of USA Today newspaper. I shared my opinion on what U.S. and other nations need to do to help get this war to a relative end. So that it does not become a long, grinding war that the West will ultimately lose interest in and Ukraine will just be grinded down. I wanted to say this to the Ukrainian military, which has already changed the course of this war with the use of the weapons that we provided. They’re taking the war deep into Russian territory with the deep battle. That’s the first step towards Ukrainian victory. And I want to say that the bravery demonstrated by every day and every night by Ukrainian soldiers, that bravery has also changed the course of the war.
As I mentioned, Russia will not stop until it militarily defeats Ukraine. Russia’s going to slowly try to grind Ukraine to the same ashes as Mariupol and Sievierodonetsk. So, in my opinion, the fastest way to end this war – let a US coalition of nations enter the war in a combined command of airpower to defeat Russian Air Forces in Ukraine and support the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their defeat of all Russian ground forces.
Western airpower should unite with Ukraine’s Air Force and bring a relatively quick end. This will take time to establish an air coalition and will take time for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to prepare for a war in the ground. But when Western airpower will cut Russian forces from supply and Russian reinforcements from Russia, then that is the beginning of the end of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
And when it comes to this nuclear threat, I can end this by saying I believe that nuclear threat cannot be permitted to serve as a protective shield for nuclear powers to support their evil and use their conventional military because this conceding only encourages more aggression.
AUTHOR: Olga Konsevych