Anatoliy PINCHUK: on the importance of the Armed Forces development strategy in the context of a
war of attrition, problems with arms supplies and the perception of the Russian threat in the United States and the West. In the program Security talks with Valentyn Badrak on the Apostrophe TV channel.
ANATOLY PINCHUK, Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Security of Eastern Europe.
Chairman of the Board of the International Foundation for the Defense of Ukraine. Expert in the
field of geopolitics, economic, energy and military security.
President of the NGO “Ukrainian Strategy”,
Since 2014, he has been involved in low-level negotiations with US representatives on the supply or
sale of arms and military equipment to Ukraine arms and military equipment, including high-tech
Mr. Anatoliy, thank you very much for finding the opportunity to join us.
I know that in addition to being the Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Security in Eastern
Europe, you are also the Chairman of the International Foundation for the Defense of Ukraine, which
is a partner of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and and a person who is involved in Ukraine’s
negotiations on providing weapons to Ukraine and so on. I want to start our conversation in this
What is your assessment of the situation with Ukraine’s chances of receiving the aid package that
the Biden administration has proposed to the US Congress? It seems that it provides for $61.4
billion to help Ukraine?
I hope that in January this package will finally be voted on. And a certain compromise between the
opposing parties, namely between the US Democratic and Republican parties on this issuewill be
Because this is not even a question of doubting the feasibility of supporting Ukraine, but a
question of US foreign policy of the United States, because we are talking about a package that
includes Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. And as of now, this package has become a hostage of
exclusively domestic political contradictions.
So the Republicans are aware of the threat from Putin, of Russia’s connection to the Chinese
Republicans are different. There are several wings in the Republican Party, including the so-called
“isolationists”, there are even misguided supporters of Putin who believe that he is a defender of
Christian values, and so on.
But they are few in number, and most members of the Republican Party are aware of the threats
coming from Russia. But as of now, there are deep political contradictions within the party, and
the issue of voting on the aid package has become a hostage to these foreign policy contradictions.
What do you think of Ukraine’s “New Year’s request” to the United States to provide a huge amount
of weapons, including aircraft, F/A-18 multi-purpose fighters, two types of attack helicopters,
three types of drones even an anti-missile system for intercepting medium-range ballistic missiles
and so on. How realistic is it that this request will be considered by the American side?
There are procedures: any official requests are considered by the American side. This is the first
Secondly, for the first time, the Ukrainian side has made a request for more effective and powerful
weapons. And this is right. If we talk about the situation with the development of the war,
unfortunately, we have one negative trend.
The Russians have analyzed their mistakes since the beginning of the war and throughout 2022. They
are constantly analyze the use of certain types of weapons during this war and effectively
mobilizing their economy, rebuilding and developing their military- industrial complex.
For example, they now have a significant advantage in the use of FPV drones, “Eagles”, etc.
And this is despite Ukraine’s powerful steps in increasing its own drone production, as well as
with its partners. That is, the West, while still slower than Russia, is rebuilding its
military-industrial complex to meet the needs of a long-term war of attrition. And this is the
current trend in the development of hostilities.
Can military-technical cooperation help? After the last visit of President Zelenskyy announced that
two powerful projects had been launched.
The first is the joint production of 155 mm ammunition, and the second is Western-made missiles for
our “post-Soviet” missile and anti-aircraft systems. Can we expect these projects to be scaled up
later and we will get new opportunities?
I would talk about a combination of factors. And not so much about the visit of President Volodymyr
Zelenskyy but about the event that took place in Washington on December 6-7, 2023, in which a large
number of Ukrainian arms manufacturers were present.
And in fact, the second part of this event was the first stage of direct working consultations
between Ukrainian and American arms manufacturers.
I hope that this event gave a certain impetus to the development of such direct communications and
consultations that will result in some new projects.
The production of shells is the most pressing issue now, and I would not talk about any one
There are several projects underway in parallel with the EU and the US aimed at launching and
icrease new production of 155- caliber shells of various modifications.
As for the second project you mentioned, it is not about the production of missiles, but about the
adaptation of Western missiles such as the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow to Soviet-made systems.
Indeed, this is one of the first potentially successful projects that I hope will be brought to
completion and thus strengthening our air defense capabilities.
And it is the development of joint production cooperation that is one of the ways to solve the
problem that I mentioned earlier – the lag, so far, I hope it is temporary, from Russia in the
development of the military industrial complex.
And what about the mood in the West and in the U.S. Can we expect that the projects that have been
launched will be well received and implemented with good results, and then the companies will
decide on more powerful joint projects? For example, like Poland, which today even produces missile
components for Himars rockets, for example. Can we expect to see an increase in trust and
This is not so much a question of success or failure of these projects, but of our internal
restructuring and internal reform.
When we talk about the security of technology transfer, it is primarily about Ukraine’s
implementation of the level of the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, and other armed
formations that are part of the Defense Forces, certain protocols, rules and procedures that ensure
compliance with certain secrecy and security procedures.
That is, this is primarily a matter of our internal reform, which should be based on the
interaction of implementation of American and NATO security standards in this area.
In the context of the development of Ukraine’s cooperation with the United States, can the course
of events negatively affect Ukraine?
Events if Donald Trump gains more and more power and eventually becomes the president of the United
It is difficult to talk about this now. But theoretically, the election of Donald Trump as
president of the United States certainly carries of course, a lot of risks, given his previous
statements and positions on certain issues.
But I think it is also premature to say for sure that it will be a disaster. At least because when
Trump was elected president of the United States, he sometimes took controversial steps, but at the
same time, it was under his watch that Ukraine, first of all, received the first lethal weapons in the form of aid, and secondly, his opposition to Russia’s efforts to build the “Streams” was more powerful than the current administration’s opposition.
Biden before the outbreak of war (2022 – a full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine)
Therefore, I would not say that everything is one hundred percent clear. Although there are risks,
of course, and they are considered great.
How do you assess the possibilities of counteracting Trump that Democrats are introducing now, in
particular in conditionally democratic state of Colorado, where there is a ban on his participation
in the primaries?
Will he manage, given that he has a Supreme Court hearing until January 3, 2024, and can he appeal
this ban? And if not, does this increase the chances of the “pro-Ukrainian” candidate for US
presidency, Nikki Haley?
Let me start by answering your second question. In principle, if we base ourselves on the data of
sociological studies and polls, if Trump does not run for the US presidency for whatever reason,
the biggest advantage for President of the United States, then Nikki Haley has the greatest
advantage. She is one of the most consistent of the candidates who has a clear anti-Russian and
anti-Chinese position, and it is a balanced position, and not in the direction of exaggerating the
Indeed, the election of Nikki Haley as President of the United States could increase the amount of
counteraction to Russia and, accordingly, increase aid to Ukraine,
Now to the situation with the legal aspects of Donald Trump’s election.
I am not ready to predict the decision of the US Supreme Court, but the United States is one of the
few countries that have not sufficiently regulated the issue of the possibility of electing a
person under criminal a person who is under criminal prosecution or has a conviction (in our legal
parlance slang, an “outstanding conviction”). That is, theoretically, a felon can be elected
president of the United States a criminal can be elected president of the United States while he is
still in prison.
In European countries and in Ukraine, this is not the case, because there are rules that prohibit
it. And in the United States, there is no such direct ban on this.
If there is a decision of the US Supreme Court on some direct or indirect grounds, it is possible
to ban running for office is possible. I would estimate the likelihood of Trump’s success in
appealing this decision at 60 to 40 percent or 70 to 30%, but it will not be final in the sense
that it will still be appealed, so I’m not going to make any predictions.
The question of the mental cut. In December, the U.S. administration repeatedly “sounded”
assurances that the US wants Ukraine to win. What, in your opinion, can be a marker that the U.S.
administration is actually blessing this victory, so to speak, in a concrete way?
Unfortunately, I still think it’s more of a rhetoric. Because if we are going to discuss this
situation objectively situation, first of all, we need to define what Victory is.
So there is a war between Russia and Ukraine. Russia sees this war as a war with the conventional
West, where Ukraine is rather a “war territory” and so on.
But the real war is between the two countries.
Any war ends either with the victory of one of the parties, which implies the surrender of the
other side and the occupation, at least partial, of the other side. Or by some kind of peace
agreement, but this peace agreement must arise as a result of a change in the primary goal setting
of one or both sides.
Ukraine’s goal is simply to defend its land and return its territories. That is to say that
Ukraine’s goal should change, there are no grounds in principle.
Theoretically, Russia’s goal may change if certain circumstances lead to some kind of
transformation of Russia and a change in its political regime. Because Russia does not defend,
Russia attacks, Russia is an aggressor, and it has certain ambitious goals (it is fighting for its
geopolitical subjectivity, etc.).
Such a situation is realistic and possible due to the coincidence of certain factors and
I don’t think a classic victory for one of the parties is possible at this point. I really
hope that the occupation of Ukraine will not happen. But at the same time, I see no prospects for a
classic in the classical sense of Ukraine’s victory in terms of occupying a certain territory of
Russia and signing an agreement on its capitulation. I think everyone understands that this is not
a realistic scenario either.
That’s why this is a certain rhetoric from the United States. In fact, when the United States
speaks of Ukraine’s victory, they mostly mean that Ukraine has achieved the liberation of the
Unfortunately, from my own experience of communicating with American officials, as well as in the
US Congress, I can say that for some reason, this is what they also understand as Ukraine’s
victory, and there is an illusion or fantasy that if Ukraine reaches its borders, the war will end.
But the war will not end, and unfortunately there is no such realization.
And unfortunately, in the United States, most of the American establishment does not have a formed
vision of Russia’s future that is acceptable to them. They have one for China, but not for Russia.
And as a result of the lack of this vision, with regard to
the war in Ukraine, illusions arise, and as a result, wrong decisions are made.
And until such a vision is formed, mistakes in countering the threats and risks coming from Russia,
not only in relation to Ukraine, but in the world in general, unfortunately, will continue to be
That is, there is no such vision, and some of the establishment is too afraid to talk about “regime
change” or something like that, and this is despite the fact that Joe Biden himself has repeatedly,
let’s say, in my opinion, made “Freudian slips” when he talked about the need to counter Putin, to
eliminate the Putin regime, etc.
Putin’s regime, and so on. However, later the White House gently corrected and amended it. That is,
as of now, this problem exists and needs to be addressed. First of all, by the United States
itself, but we (as a state) also depend on its solution.
But if we translate your answer into a practical plane and think about it this way. Could it mean,
for example, the transfer of ATACMS missiles, or attack helicopters, or, say, a batch of F/A-18s,
etc, would this be a manifestation of the vision that this is how Ukraine will be able to protect
itself after going to the borders of 1991?
I do not consider any of the things you have listed as such. Let me explain:
If we talk about Ukraine’s victory and understand the negative trends we have now in terms of the
development of the Russian and Western military-industrial complexes, the only way to achieve this
is to mobilize the entire West and increasing the production of weapons (which we have not yet
seen), is the destruction of the Russian military-industrial complex.
But there must be something to destroy it with. And no ATACMS will solve anything here. Because
ATACMS flies 300 kilometers, and we need means that will fly 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 kilometers.
That will be able to reach some factory in Siberia that produces missiles (for example, the
Votkinsk plant in Udmurtia, a manufacturer of ballistic and tactical missiles) to reach and destroy
it. Moreover, it is desirable to launch more missiles, so that not all of them were not shot down
by the Russian air defense system.
Therefore, such things can be said when we receive Tomahawk missiles or other means of with a range
of 1000+ kilometers. Everything up to 1000 is not about that.
The following is also important. Even our President Zelensky in one of his interviews spoke about a
very cautious and concerned attitude of some Western partners to the conduct of hostilities on the
territory of Russian Federation.
But again, if we are talking about a war between Russia and Ukraine, I don’t see any restrictions
on Ukraine’s ability to conduct combat operations on Russian territory.
And I, based on my conversations with Western and American military experts, including former
American military generals with combat experience, I can say that
one of the reasons for the failure of our so-called counter-offensive is that, unfortunately, these
offensive took place within the territory of Ukraine at those positions where the most powerful
fortifications (Surovikin’s lines, the “dragon’s teeth”).
All of them noted that in order to attack in those areas, we needed to have air superiority and
long-range artillery and long-range artillery. And if this is pushed back, there is no point in
fighting. We should attack where there are no such fortifications.
That is, it was more logical to fight on the territory of the Russian Federation in order to get to
the rear of those groups in Donbas and, accordingly, attack them from the territory of the Russian
Federation, where these fortifications and the degree of readiness to counteract them is not there.
But it is this erroneous position – not to escalate the level of escalation, not to fight on
Russian territory – that has deterred the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and, accordingly, the Russian
Federation, deterred the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and accordingly, our armed forces did not do so.
One of the consequences of this is the combat losses that could have been much lower.
And the issue of losses is also an important factor, because in fact, when the Commander-in-Chief
of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote about the transition to a more technological
warfare, this also applies to losses.
Another issue is that I would like our General Staff to pay more attention to the area of
reasonable formation of arms needs (which should be based on the study of our own and international
combat experience and monitoring and analysis of new
experience and monitoring and analysis of the latest trends in the development and use of weapons),
and in general, formulation of a strategy for the development of the Armed Forces for the future,
not just solving current problems here and now.
Because if we get involved in a landing war, we have to save our own human resources and the lives
of our soldiers.
And to do this, we need to move to a different type of weapons, different methods of warfare, where
weapons fight more than people. That is, it is also important and necessary to move in this
Then we will preserve our potential and have enough resources for a long-term war,
I hope, will eventually end in what I call the transformation of Russia. And, accordingly. the
liberation of all our territories as a result of this transformation.
Mr. Anatoliy, I am extremely grateful to you, especially for your remark that it would be necessary
to move the war.
I hope that people will listen to this when they watch this interview and I hope that your
recommendations will be useful for those
who make and those who make and develop relevant decisions in Ukraine.