Winter is here: Zelensky suddenly accepts Zaluzhny's proposal on defensive fortifications

Americans push Zelensky into Realpolitik, make him build major fortification lines

Volodymyr Zelensky gave an unexpected order to build the Zaluzhny Wall similarly to the Surovikin Wall. Will it save the Armed Forces of Ukraine from defeat?

In a video address on Thursday, November 30, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine would erect fortifications on main defensive lines in areas of:

  • Avdiivka,
  • Maryinka,
  • Kupyansk,
  • Lyman,
  • and in border regions with Russia and Belarus.

Defence will become a priority issue for Kyiv from now on, Zelensky stated.

Ukrainian sources report that Zelensky had a disagreement with the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny about the suggestion of the latter to start building defence fortifications. Such a move implies that Ukraine was abandoning the offensive tactics of its Armed Forces.

However, Zelensky has surprisingly agreed to make Zaluzhny's proposal a reality.

Resident Telegram channel said citing a source in Zelensky's office that the decision was made after US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin paid a visit to Kyiv. The sides had a "tough conversation” about the need for such fortifications, the channel said.

The Americans understand that Zelensky's political statements about the need to retrieve the 1991 borders do not correlate with the resources that the West and Ukraine have at their disposal.

What does Zelensky's statements actually mean?

This is undoubtedly an informational defeat for Zelensky. Ukrainian media keep trumpeting about the progressing offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Some of them even say that the AFU still hold Bakhmut under control.

It also means that Kyiv will only be able to receive military assistance for defensive purposes, which is already a reality.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance, Ukraine received the smallest amount of external financial assistance in November over the past six months: $2 billion in preferential financing vs. $5.3 billion in July. To cover the budget deficit, Ukraine needs $7-8 billion per month.

According to the rules of military affairs, there should be three such fortified lines of defence. The Minister of Digital Development of Ukraine, Mikhail Fedorov, said that the Ministry of Defence would be involved in the construction of the first line of defence. The State Agency for Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Development will be in charge of the second and third lines (with private contractors to be involved).

Against the backdrop of the changing concept, Zelensky, Defence Minister Rustem Umerov and the head of Zelensky's administration Andrii Yermak started traveling around the country. They visited Odessa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and the command post of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kupyansk. The purpose of the tour is to ensure loyalty to new defence guidelines.

Is the Zaluzhny Line project feasible?

Based on the above, questions arise…

  • Where will the funds come from for the construction of such a major Zaluzhny Wall from Donbass to Lviv?
  • Does Ukraine have manpower and hardware for such works? This brings up another project in memory — the Yatsenyuk wall that sank into oblivion, and the money was simply plundered.
  • Is anyone going to guard the wall when the fortifications are finished? And when are they going to be finished?
  • Last but not least, will the Russian Aerospace Forces allow such a project to be implemented?

Kyiv has already allocated 12 million 500 thousand hryvnia to the Dnieper regional administration for the construction of fortifications in the region. According to Ukrainian MP Alexey Goncharenko, the works in this area must be completed before December 28, 2023. Let's remember this date.

Let us also recall that the Surovikin Wall was built in six months. The works started in October 2022 and came to an end in June, before Ukraine went on a counteroffensive.

The Russian Armed Forces have learned to break through fortifications. The assault on Avdiivka is going 30 percent faster and more effective than the assault on Bakhmut.

The Russian military-industrial complex is ready to supply 5 million artillery shells a year. New types of weapons have been prepared to destroy fortified areas. For example, the Russian troops use aerial bombs with universal gliding and correction modules, as well as new types of kamikaze drones, including Lancet drones.

Former deputy secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, General Sergei Krivonos, said that the Russian offensive "should be expected and it will happen.” The Russians are preparing a huge number of full-fledged military units deep in the rear on the territory of Russia, he added.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov