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Ukraine at ‘serious risk’ of collapse, ex-British general warns

By the end of the year, Kiev’s forces will be struggling to “defend the indefensible,” General Sir Richard Barrons told the BBC

Retired UK general Sir Richard Barrons has told the BBC that there is “a serious risk” of Ukraine losing the conflict with Russia this year. With ammunition and manpower running low, Barrons warned that Ukrainian forces may be unable to hold back a major Russian offensive this summer.

“We are seeing Russia batter away at the front line, employing a five-to-one advantage in artillery, ammunition, and a surplus of people reinforced by the use of newish weapons,” Barrons told the British broadcaster.

“At some point this summer,” he continued, “we expect to see a major Russian offensive, with the intent of doing more than smash forward with small gains to perhaps try and break through the Ukrainian lines. And if that happens we would run the risk of Russian forces breaking through and then exploiting into areas of Ukraine where the Ukrainian armed forces cannot stop them.”

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Barrons served at the head of the UK’s Joint Forces Command from 2013 until his retirement in 2016. Unlike some former Western military chiefs who still claim that Ukraine can defeat Russia on the battlefield, Barrons has warned since last year that the conflict is unwinnable, and could potentially drag on for decades.

Since Ukraine’s much-vaunted summer counteroffensive petered out last October, Western analysts and officials have warned that shortages of troops and ammunition could lead to a sudden collapse of the Ukrainian front. 

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukraine lost 160,000 men during its counteroffensive, out of a total of 444,000 casualties between February 2022 and March 2024. The Ukrainian government has resorted to increasingly draconian conscription measures to replenish these losses, but Barrons warned that desertion and draft-dodging will likely increase as Kiev’s chances of success dwindle.

“Ukraine may come to feel it can’t win,” he said. “And when it gets to that point, why will people want to fight and die any longer, just to defend the indefensible?”

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US has ‘no viable plan’ for Ukraine – senator

Ukrainian officials have tied their country’s survival to the continued influx of Western cash and weapons. Speaking to CNN last week, President Vladimir Zelensky said that “Ukraine will lose the war” if the US Congress fails to pass a $95 billion foreign aid bill including $60 billion in military assistance for Kiev. In an interview with Politico several weeks earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claimed that Kiev needs more US-made Patriot air defense systems to hold the line against Russian forces.

However, the aid bill has been stalled by Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In a New York Times op-ed published on Friday, Ohio Senator JD Vance, who voted against the bill, wrote that $60 billion “is a fraction of what it would take to turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor.”

Furthermore, Vance argued that the US and its allies only have the industrial capacity to produce a third of the Patriot systems requested by Ukraine, and a tenth of the artillery shells.

Despite these harsh realities, Zelensky said this week that he has “a plan” for another counteroffensive, but needs “certain technologies” from the West before this operation can be launched.

 

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