Given he was a tank commander in the former Soviet army, I was particularly interested in what he thought about the Ukrainian army being supplied with Abrams tanks from the USA and Leopard 2 tanks from Germany.
Yuri was quite clear that the tanks would assist in any spring offensive by Kyiv to move forward and drive a wedge through the occupying Russian forces in the southeast of Ukraine. Despite Vladimir Putin saying that the tanks “would burn like all the rest”, he was sure that Moscow had suffered a setback with the news, especially as it also showed that the West was still prepared to back Ukraine.
Yuri also reminded me that, in addition to the supply of armaments from Ukraine’s allies, the Ukrainian forces had also captured hundreds of tanks (in working order) that were abandoned by Russian troops fleeing the conflict, along with huge amounts of artillery and ammunition.
However, just after the announcement that modern battle tanks would be provided to Ukraine, Kyiv renewed its pleas to be supplied with fighter jets so that it could defend its airspace. While the USA and Germany have, so far, rebuffed such requests, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the provision of fighter jets for Ukraine was “not excluded” and went on to say that they would “not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort”.
So, as this senseless war approaches its second year, we should never forget that Putin’s illogical order to invade has cost the lives of tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians alike. The grief that has been visited upon families due to his maniacal obsession with the subjugation of Ukraine, should not and cannot be understated.
He and his warmongering cohorts embarked on this invasion with the belief that Ukraine would just lie down and roll over, but even after this was evidently not going to be the case, instead of withdrawing and sitting round the negotiating table, they chose to continue the conflict in an effort to save face, irrespective of the horrendous loss of life this entailed.
Obviously, the signs are that this war has some way to go before peace prevails and the rebuilding of Ukraine can begin, which, given the destruction inflicted on it by Moscow, will take some time, as well as a lot of money and effort.
Lastly, I broached the subject of Ukrainian morale with Yuri now that the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion was just a few weeks away and he said that it was just as high, if not higher than it has ever been before. As more atrocities by Russian troops are unveiled, the anger and strength of resolve of the Ukrainian people only become stronger and, despite being deprived of water, heating, and lighting for large parts of the day, the people were prepared to toughen it out.
Yuri said that Moscow’s objective of hitting Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure to demoralise the population had backfired as people were prepared to suffer the consequences in order to see Putin defeated. They deserve no less than that.