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Defense Committee secretary Kostenko on Ukraine’s war outlook

MP Roman Kostenko
MP Roman Kostenko

With suspended U.S. military aid and Russia’s superior manpower reserves, Ukraine has little choice but to remain on the defensive in the war, parliamentary Defense Secretary Chair Roman Kostenko said in an interview with NV Radio on Jan. 19.

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“If we consider the entire 1,000-kilometer-long frontline, we have been in an active defense since last year, with some active measures,” Kostenko said.

“We tried to carry out offensive action in Zaporizhzhya Oblast, as well as in Kherson Oblast. Even though we called [the summer 2023 operation] a strategic offensive, what is happening is more like strategic defense. The enemy has not been stopped in all sectors, and in some, they continue to carry out active offensive and are successful — Avdiivka and Kupyansk sectors. This is a problem.”

“When they [Kyiv’s Western partners] tell us to go on the defensive… I would agree not in the sense that we have to stand still and dig in without carrying out any [offensive] initiatives, but that we need to consolidate our defense.”

The committee chair then spoke about Russian troops successfully stopping the Ukraine’s 2023 counteroffensive in the south.

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“We cannot break through the defense that Russia has built in Zaporizhzhya Oblast due to its thorough execution. In certain sectors, they are pushing us back and we are retreating. This suggests concern regarding the construction of our defense and the commanders responsible for its development. Defense is not just trenches; it is a fully-fledged system.”

“The objective for defense is to skillfully repel the enemy's attacks, inflict maximum losses, maintain positions, and create conditions for further offensives. These four factors must align. When we are being pushed back, it is not defense.”

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Kostenko then commented on recent media reports saying that U.S. officials are urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to focus exclusively on halting further Russian territorial gains.

“There are many ways to interpret what [Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Advisor] meant,” said Kostenko.

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“Typically, an offensive demands more weaponry. Perhaps it is a hint that ‘we will give you weapons only for defense.’ Or they realized that the Russian army has proven difficult to push through, as observed over the past year.”

“It's true that we need to strengthen our defense to a point where the enemy stops pushing us back. Launching an attack is impossible when the enemy is encroaching from all sides, seizing territory.”

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine