Ukraine: Retired general says Putin is leading Russia to defeat

Top retired Russian general says Putin is leading his country to defeat and humiliation in Ukraine and blames the President for uniting the West with disastrous invasion

  • Retired army colonel-general Leonid Ivashov has been a vocal critic of Putin
  • Now, he has said the carnage in Ukraine as been worse than he imagined 

Vladimir Putin is leading Russia to defeat and humiliation in Ukraine, according to one of Moscow’s most respected military figures, who also blames the President for uniting the West with his disastrous invasion.

Retired army colonel-general Leonid Ivashov had called for the president’s resignation a year ago before the war started over a ‘criminal’ policy in ‘provoking’ an ‘artificial’ conflict, foreseeing it would trigger disaster.

Now he says the carnage across the border is worse than he imagined.

Ivashov, chairman of the independent All-Russian Officers’ Assembly and a former top aide to a famous Soviet defence minister, lambasted Putin, declaring: ‘We did not expect such a series of mistakes, wrong actions during this military operation.’

‘What happened in the end? Basically what we expected, but much worse,’ said the general, a key figure in the Soviet-era Red Army and later the Russian military, in an interview with Republic independent media.

Retired army colonel-general Leonid Ivashov (pictured) last year called for Vladimir Putin to resign, saying he had been pursuing a ‘criminal’ policy in ‘provoking’ an ‘artificial’ conflict in Ukraine. He has now said Putin is leading Russia to defeat and humiliation in the war

Ivashov, chairman of the independent All-Russian Officers’ Assembly and a former top aide to a famous Soviet defence minister, lambasted Putin, declaring: ‘We did not expect such a series of mistakes, wrong actions during this military operation.’ Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen sit atop a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle on a road outside the frontline town of Bakhmut, Feb. 11

‘At the operational-tactical level, we did not think that within a year we would not be able to liberate the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

‘We did not think that there would be such heavy losses, although I then said there would be tens of thousands of dead on both sides.

‘But everything turned out to be much worse.’

Some estimates say the losses on both sides are now over 200,000, and rising fast. Russia alone is estimated to have lost as many as 140,000 since February last year.

‘It was not expected that there would be such destruction: in fact, entire small towns and villages were demolished to their foundations,’ Ivashov said.

‘Further, I wrote that we would find ourselves a pariah state, but, frankly, I did not think that we would not have a single ally that has serious influence on the political, economic or military-technical level.’

Ivashov blames Putin for triggering a new alignment between the US and China, and expects this to bear fruit with the pair holding the major sway in the world.

‘Russia in such a picture of the world is not mentioned at all as a political player,’ he said. ‘So now they will create a bipolar world, but without our participation.’

Pictured: A Ukrainian tank rides to its position in the frontline in Bakhmut on Sunday

Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine had ‘saved NATO’ with Finland and Sweden due to join, he continued. ‘We have delivered the whole of Europe into the hands of the Americans…’ due to Putin’s ineptness.

‘There was no Collective West before, there were a lot of contradictions there. And today we are creating this Collective West with our own hands.’

Ivashov said Putin blundered by not properly seeking other solutions in Donetsk and Luhansk, before launching his invasion.

‘Did we raise this issue at the UN General Assembly? No! We immediately moved tanks there. Every problem has multiple solutions. And most importantly – do not choose the worst. But we, unfortunately, chose the worst.’

He also scathingly criticised Putin for the use of private armies in the conflict, stressing it leads to confused command structures.

Putin deployed the Wagner Private Military company in Ukraine, which has played a large part in the seven-month-long battles raging around the city of Bakhmut – a major target for Putin’s invading troops.

Wagner has claimed to take towns in the region singlehandedly, publicly embarrassing the Russian Armed Forces. 

Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen rest on a road outside the city of Bakhmut on Saturday

‘As for the [regular] army, there is the problem of destroying professionalism,’ Ivashov said.

Russia is paying the price for the Putin era’s demoting of military professions and instead bringing in secret services cronies and even alcohol and furniture experts to key military positions,’ the retired general said.

‘To go to war with such an army is more than a crime,’ he said.

He forecast failure if Putin forces through a new mass mobilisation, and as a hardliner he berated the dictator for seeking to gag his critics.

‘If you shut someone’s mouth, it does not mean that you have become stronger,’ he warned. ‘If sober-minded people are silenced, then you only become dumber and more corrupt, but not stronger in any way.’

Using intellect is the way to victory, Ivashov said.

‘In our country, instead of intellect, people are twisting their arms, intimidating, imprisoning. In such a situation, the country always loses and does not live long.

‘We have already experienced a systemic crisis, and what will happen next, I cannot say, I can only speculate.’

Ivashov, 79, was senior aide to Soviet defence minister Marshal Dmitry Ustinov.

Later he headed the military cooperation department at the Russian defence ministry, and later was president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems. 

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers walk along a street in Bakhmut on Sunday

On Tuesday, Russian forces bombarded Ukrainian positions along the frontlines in eastern Donetsk region in what appeared to be early salvoes of the new offensive – as NATO allies met in Brussels to plan stepped-up supplies to the Kyiv government.

Ukraine said Bakhmut was in a precarious position. 

‘There is not a single square metre in Bakhmut that is safe or that is not in range of enemy fire or drones,’ regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukraine’s national broadcaster.

He said Russian artillery was hitting targets all along the frontlines in Donetsk, which along with Luhansk region makes up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland and a main objective for the Russians.

With the first anniversary of the invasion approaching, the Kremlin has intensified operations across a broad area of southern and eastern Ukraine and a major new offensive has been widely anticipated.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday that the bombardments and ground attacks indicated the offensive was already underway.

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday its forces had repelled attacks in five settlements in Luhansk and six in Donetsk, including in Bakhmut, over the past 24 hours.

They had also beaten back an attack on a town in Kharkiv region, which borders Russia in northeast Ukraine.

‘The situations is difficult as a whole, but controlled,’ Kyrylenko said. ‘The enemy has not been able to achieve a tactical or strategic success there.’

From second left, U.S. Admiral Rob Bauer, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Kyrylo Budanov and Ukraine’s Lieutenant General Yevhen Moisiuk, are seen during the North Atlantic Council round table meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, February 14

The Russian assault on Bakhmut has been spearheaded by mercenaries of the Wagner group. Britain’s defence ministry said on Tuesday the mercenaries had made small gains in the northern outskirts in the past three days but an advance to the south of Bakhmut had probably made little progress.

The capture of Bakhmut would give Russia a new foothold in Donetsk and a rare victory after months of setbacks.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that the U.S.-led NATO military alliance demonstrated its hostility towards Russia every day, and was becoming more and more involved in the conflict in Ukraine.

‘NATO is an organisation which is hostile to us and which proves this hostility every day,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

‘It is trying its best to make its involvement in the conflict around Ukraine as clear as possible,’ Peskov added.

Moscow has said weapons supplies to Ukraine by NATO countries are dragging out the conflict and raising the possibility of a further escalation. Kyiv and the West say deliveries of advanced military hardware are crucial in helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s offensive.

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