War of strategies: «Russia has suffered a defeat after falling into a very simple trap»

Francisco José Gan Pampols, in a file image. / efe

The former head of the NATO Rapid Deployment headquarters believes that Moscow will relaunch its attacks to choke the economy of kyiv

Reserve Lieutenant General Francisco José Gan Pampols was director of the General Military Academy, of the Armed Forces Intelligence Center and head of the NATO Rapid Deployment Headquarters. He follows the war in Ukraine day by day, and since the beginning of the invasion he has become the most authoritative voice to explain an invasion that has changed the reality of the West. The expert attributes the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive to kyiv’s ability to deceive Russia, but also to the use of precision weapons together with very precise information from the enemy’s nerve centers.

-What is the situation after the Ukrainian counteroffensive?

-In the East there has been a very well planned attack that has caught everyone by surprise. The Ukrainians had launched a diversionary maneuver, in which they concentrated troops in the South and carried out some attacks that made the Russians believe that they were going to be attacked on that front. Thus, in Kharkov to the east, Russia had a poor defense and very few troops. Ukraine has attacked at that point and has been able to win without any problem. One thing is enough to understand the importance of this advance. Ukraine has conquered in four days between 2,000 and 3,000 square kilometers while it took Russia two and a half months to get 500 square kilometers.

Was this attack expected?

– To begin with, this is a full-fledged Russian defeat. It seems incredible that the Russians have fallen into such a simple trap. It is incredible to see how they have been unable to detect all the movements of troops and material necessary to launch the counteroffensive.

Almost a hundred Russian charges ask to impute Putin for

-From now on, what can happen?

-Of what there is no doubt is that Ukraine will continue attacking to the best of its ability. Russia, for its part, is going to use everything it has. He has to manage to stop the counteroffensive and he will use, if he can, a natural feature such as a river with enough width and depth to constitute an obstacle that allows him to organize his defense. It is very likely that it will start the massive bombing of factories, civil centers, communication hubs, etc… It will target everything that makes ordinary life difficult, industrial production -especially that of weapons-. It will try to further stifle the Ukrainian economy. Just yesterday they began the attack on power plants, which is leaving several areas of the country without supply. Most disturbing, however, remains the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The head of the Ukrainian General Staff already assured a few days ago that Russia is considering the use of this type of weapon. That possibility is still on the table.

– One of the doubts that arises is to know what will happen when winter arrives.

– The cold affects the maintenance of weapons, material and equipment, especially the most sophisticated. Both sides will suffer from frostbite and will have problems with food, fuel, etc… The war will enter a much slower speed.

– One of the events that seems to have changed the pace of the war is the use of precision weapons delivered to Ukraine by the United States

– Not only do you have to think about precision weapons such as Himars, Stingers or Javelins, but also about the quality of the information to know where to attack. The combination has been lethal for Russia because its logistics centers, its command and control centers… Its key points, in short, have been reached.

‘Causus belli’ nuclear

– Just yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister offered to return to the negotiating table.

– They are delaying maneuvers. But Ukraine is not going to sit down because they think they are winning.

– But is the Ukrainian victory possible?

– The Ukrainians have the will to win. His morale is tremendous. They fight for their house, for their family, for their land. And besides, President Zelensky has managed to galvanize his population. But the Russian soldiers, albeit with much lower motivation and worse commands, are also learning by doing. Now they have received a setback that hurts a lot, but they are realizing that they need more troops on the ground and better use of infantry. The Ukrainian successes will fade as the enemy learns to adapt to the situation. Russia needs to get better intelligence on Ukraine, and also employ light reconnaissance elements to control the movements of its enemies, beat the origin of Ukrainian precision fire and prevent the use of anti-tank and light and medium anti-aircraft weapons. The big question that nobody knows how to answer is why Russia is being unable to use its aviation and thus achieve air superiority on the ground.

– What do you think will be the evolution of the contest?

– Putin is not going to suddenly decide that he can lose this war. If the motivation of the Russian soldiers continues to decline, perhaps Ukraine can return to the border, but we must not forget that Russia is a nuclear power. In Donbass, where pro-Russian independent republics have been declared, perhaps Ukraine does not want to get bogged down and end up enmeshed in a war that has been going on for more than eight years. A different situation is experienced in Crimea, where Ukraine’s special operations forces are operating. For the Russian Federation it is just another province, even though it is not recognized internationally, and any attempt to reconquer it could be a nuclear ‘casus belli’ for Russia.

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