Ukraine is on the brink of losing the eastern region of Luhansk to Russia and is currently outgunned and running low on ammunition, a senior Ukrainian intelligence official has warned.
“The situation is very difficult because the Russians have a significant superiority in the weapons available to them,” says Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukraine’s military intelligence.
Now in its fourth month, the war in Ukraine has become an artillery battle of attrition that Skibitsky says is grinding down both Russian and Ukrainian forces, but that Moscow still maintains an advantage in terms of its weapons stockpiles, while Kyiv is almost completely reliant on Western-supplied arms and munitions.
“According to our estimates, Russia still has the potential to wage a long-term war against Ukraine,” Skibitsky said in an interview with Current Time, the Russian-language channel run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
“We are moving to the NATO standard, which is primarily a 155-millimeter [artillery system]. But today this is still not enough to completely slow down the offensive pace of Russia’s armed forces.”
The warning and assessment from Ukraine’s military intelligence comes as Kyiv has become more outspoken about its setbacks on the battlefield in the eastern Donbas region where fierce fighting in Syevyerodonetsk, a strategically important city on the Ukrainian front line in Luhansk Oblast, has seen Russian troops slowly advance.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has repeatedly warned that his country’s military can only respond with about one artillery round for every 10 fired by Russia, and Kyiv is expected to present new requests for weapons, ammunition, and defensive equipment to Western governments at a June 15 meeting with NATO in Brussels.
Despite sanctions and diminished capacity, Skibitsky says that Russia can still continue at its current rate of combat without needing to manufacture more weapons for at least another year.
While Moscow has failed in its original plans and currently revised its war aims to concentrate its forces in the east, the Kremlin has not abandoned its initial goal of seizing Ukrainian territory, he warned.
“All of Russia’s efforts are aimed right now at encircling our [military] grouping in the east and trying to at least complete the task that the Russian military’s General Staff set for itself,” Skibitsky said.
Kyiv has kept the total number of its military losses secret, but Ukrainian officials have said that between 100 and 200 of the country’s troops are being killed on the front line every day.
Skibitsky says that, should Russia succeed in pushing through Syevyerodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk, which lies across the Siverskiy Donets River, it is likely to refocus its efforts in the south of Ukraine around cities like Zaporizhzhya and Kherson, where its forces are already digging in for an indefinite campaign.
“The main goals of this so-called ‘special military operation’ have not yet been achieved,” Skibitsky said. “So [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will continue the war against our country.”