“Vladimir Putin no longer has a choice, he really needs to concentrate his efforts,” This was stated by General Jean-Paul Palomeros, former NATO Supreme Commander for Transformation and former Air Force Chief of Staff, guest of Franceinfo on Saturday, April 2. The Ukrainian authorities claim that the Russians are now concentrated exclusively in the east and south of the country. “Which, paradoxically, will create a real problem for President Zelensky and his military strategists,” says General Jean-Paul Palomeros.
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Franceinfo: Today, Moscow no longer has the means to wage war on the entire territory?
Jean-Paul Palomeros: I think that Vladimir Putin and his military leaders are returning to the basics of military art, namely the need to focus their forces on an achievable goal. Which was not the case throughout this campaign. At the same time, there will always be pressure, and we see this in Kharkov. This city is very close to Russia, obviously, it is easier for them. But we can still expect the west to keep attacking, if only to delay arms supplies, probably in the Kyiv area. But it is true that Vladimir Putin no longer has a choice: he has to concentrate his efforts, which, paradoxically, will create a real problem for President Zelensky and his military strategists. How many forces are they going to give to the opposition in Donbass and how far do they want to go? The problem is now really becoming a Ukrainian problem. The problem of strategy in the face of this Russian strategy, which at first seemed clear, which has completely deviated and is now returning to the basics, that is, the Donbass, the south, Mariupol.
So, the Ukrainians will also have to rebuild?
Yes, it will be necessary. A significant part of their army has been standing in front of the Donbass since 2014, but they cannot afford to dwell on it. Then there is the idea after all, after all, as quickly as possible, negotiations. These negotiations will stop where the border is defined by weapons. President Zelensky has stated several times that he wants – I think this is too ambitious a goal – to completely take over the Donbass. But if he could already maintain the positions that existed before the start of the current war, I think it would not be so bad. So, we will witness this positioning war. And the Russians, having united their efforts and concentrated them, will obviously be more dangerous.
The Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine reports that the entire area of Kyiv has been liberated. where is the central government. Is it extremely important?
This is extremely important. Vladimir Putin initially had two goals: to demilitarize Ukraine and overthrow the government. So yes, it’s significant. Is it sustainable? The Future Will show. There is always a way and there is always the possibility of launching raids. It is clear that the Russian army needed a respite. This is also a period of major army rotations. But it’s a big win because they [les Ukrainiens] stopped such a blitzkrieg, that blitzkrieg that Putin wanted to enter Kyiv and overthrow the government. This was stopped at the cost of their courage and also at the cost of their military know-how. We train them for years and it pays off with extremely effective weapons. And which they use very well.
Russia is informing Ukraine tonight that negotiations on the peace plan have progressed far enough to allow direct consultations between Vladimir Putin and Vladimir Zemlyansky. Will this be a big step forward?
Yes, because any high-level negotiations are good right now. The Ukrainian population is suffering too much to neglect any negotiations. But, on the other hand, we must be realistic, the terms of the negotiations, which have a chance of success, have not been established. For example, I really don’t see any security guarantees that could be offered to Ukraine today. From the moment the Russian authorities trampled on the Budapest agreements that followed the denuclearization of Ukraine, I do not believe the piece of paper signed by Vladimir Putin. This is sort of the root of the problem. But it’s still good that they talk to each other. Perhaps we can at least reach a ceasefire, this will already be the first step in Mariupol and elsewhere. The first step, which will be significant and positive.