tv Discussion on Ukraines Military Capabilities Against Russia CSPAN April 21, 2022 5:48am-6:51am EDT
we have a wonderful panel for you today. we have with us general philip breedlove, former supreme for europe. we have the director of security studies at the foreign policy council of ukrainian prison. and we have ambassador william taylor, vice president for russia and europe at the u.s. institute of peace. we were supposed to have admiral jamie fogo, but we learned he has come down with something, so he will not be joining us today. our subject is the new phase in moscow's war on ukraine, it's offensive in the east. we have had many developments over the past few days. pointing to a a very good discussion. i will start with general breedlove. it is the current russian order of battle as they prepared to advance?
there is speculation that putin wants a victory in time for the may 9 celebration of moscow's portion and war war two. is this feasible? gen. breedlove: thanks for having me here. as we do what we can for our ukrainian brothers and sisters. much is being said about what is going on on the eastern front, and i think if you seen-setting remarks are key, then we will talk about the aob. it is about a 300 mile front. it is a twisty front, but about a 300-mile front. in the midst of this, mary opal -- mariupol, and we need to call an end to some of it. we see what most ground military thinkers would call shaping and probing going on to this point,
no real major thrusts have started yet. but that is not necessarily good news. this actually may portend that they are going to be smarter here than they were in the north, where they took a whipping. i think we should be watching clearly how this shaping takes place to give us some idea of what could happen and where they might push through. so, much is said about numbers. before the war we were counting the tens of thousands of troops and number of battalion tactical groups, etc., and i think what we have learned so far is that those numbers are informative, that they may not be monstrous of. with that, i am a little tepid to say right now we see about 76 battalion task groups in the east. we think 11, 12, or 13 of those
are brand-new that have been brought from other theaters to fight. i believe we can safely say that the battalion task groups taken out of the fight in the north and repurposed to the east are probably not at full strength. and they may have some remaining problems from the losses they took in the north. things that do not portend well for our ukrainian brothers and sisters. we see a better emphasis -- better meaning russian better -- emphasis on attack aviation, both fixed-wing and rotary wing. so they look to try to solve the problems of a combined armed approach that they had in the north and were unable to act -- to effect. and that cost them dearly. we understand they have a new commander, and that he has sort
of tasked reorganized the forces. and that he will be calling the shots on what i just spoke about , the probing and shaping will tell him where to put his main effort as he tries to find weakness in the ukrainian forces. and we believe that much has been said in the press, but we believe that the terrain in the south lends itself better to russian-style fighting. so, before we declare that a big boon, let's remember, let's just remember how well the ukrainian forces prepared in the north, and let's get -- give them credit for having fought this through. so, russia will face a stiff resistance. so, as to the victory by may 9, a stone what i just said, which i think is important, and i
think it is that ukraine has been preparing for this, and this is a military that has already demonstrated incredible imagination and an incredible resiliency. i don't think this is going to be easy for russia again. russia may be able to bring mass, and that will make a difference, but i believe ukraine will be ready as they have been before. and i think, john, you asked me to go out on a limb, i think it is unlikely they are going to be able to declare a big victory by the ninth. they may take down mary opal by the ninth, and that may be their victory, but i do not believe you will see the kind of parade that mr. putin is counting on by the ninth. mr. herbst: thank you very much. hannah, let's see now, president zelenskyy said that moscow has begun its new offensive. how do you see ukraine coping with this, and you believe putin's aims are limited to the
south and east, or does he want to control the government of ukraine? ms. shelest: controlling the government is an interesting notion. at the same time the final goal of controlling the ukrainian government. in terms of being sure, but also domestic and economic developments rather on the cooperation with the european union. that is the ultimate goal. that is something for the future, not the current. more or less the kremlin realizes capturing the government is not possible. that is why they would prefer to suppress rather than political change in ukraine. but nevertheless, what is happening, and it is not just the desire to control the southeast.
that is just the limited options that the russians have for now. what we saw in the north is that coming to kyiv, widening the territory, and on the southeast to make the land lines from russia to crimea. and last but not least, that is important technology kelly -- technologically and tediously. russia was not planning to take the whole ukraine, but these quach -- these four theaters are important. losing around kyiv demonstrated the limiting capacity. that is why we see the sources and better coordination. for the first time demonstrated that russians realized they
cannot have the individual assault, they need a coordinator of the operation. the bad news that this game has a nickname of butcher, syrian butcher. but the good news is for ukraine that he has never had an experience of such a big battle. the question is, will he be able to coordinate all of the surrounding forces and the different directions where the assault is happening? that is why they have concentrated on mary opal -- mariupol. these airstrikes are happening not only on the northeast of the country, but they are also trying to use the supply chain, railways, and what they expect that should be ammunition coming
to ukraine. but also shelling from time to time new places where they will not be able to join other forces. for example, we see the small military bases to distract attention and not being able to coordinate forces or take back. definitely we see the changes. but just tactics changed from the russians. they are trying to do what they can to demonstrate victory. the rhetoric of the different russian speakers also changed a little bit. from that they started to say, we never wanted the whole ukraine, just wanted to secure the whole territory of donetsk. we heard it from several speakers. also what is interesting, it is -- it is extremely painful for
the russian military leadership to lose to the ukrainian armed forces. that is why the last week we noticed they are losing tomato. that it is not losses to ukraine, because nato is giving advice or ammunition, and the russian army can only lose to the grand nato army, but not what they perceive as the ukrainian army. as the slogan of these weeks is that motivation can be information. because the ukrainian armed forces have motivation and the russian armed forces, as we realized, quite a significant -- [indiscernible] mr. herbst: thank you very much.
bill, i would also appreciate your assessment of putin's war aims, and after that i have another question for you. phil, are you there? so, john, i appreciate your being here, first of all, and being here with you. i agree with hannah on her analysis of war aims. clearly the kremlin has reduced its war aims. it tried in the beginning to take key, as we know, and take over control, as hanna has described, and even domestic policy. and it failed. the ukrainian military, as general breedlove described, performed amazingly. and heroically, and successfully
in defending kyiv against that attack. so, the russians have reset, and are now reduced their aims. at least for now. i know you have got some concern. i have concern about their long-term goals, may not have changed, but at least for now, as hannah says, they have now focused on the east. and on the southeast. and the question this leads to, john, the question is, is that good enough? they are massing, as general breedlove has described, they are massing their forces, they are looking for a way to break through. maybe they well, maybe they won't. the ukrainian military has been on this ground for eight years. they know it well, have defended well, they know what they are about. i am in touch with people on the ground in zoom, and the
ukrainians they are described that thrust from azom down to the southwest as vulnerable. that thrust, that attempt to cut off some of the ukrainian forces that have been defending donbass for eight years, that attempt may well backfire. they may well have their supplies cut off from the north. all to say that exactly as general breedlove said, they are ready. they have been thinking about this and not only ready, they are taking actions against that. it may have an effect. it may affect the cranium's ability to defend and the russians ability to take over. so, war aims. reduced. now to the south, it is not clear that gets them
strategically what they want. and if they should succeed in consolidating donbass, the coast, all the way to crimea, they will not be satisfied with that for the long-term. mr. herbst: switching to the ukrainian side, we have seen these dreadful war crimes. yesterday putin -- or the day before putin gave an award to the butchers. basically saying, i approve of the nasty things you did. and, of course, even president biden is talking about russian genocide against ukraine. so, can zelenskyy as part of a settlement agree to russia having control over this larger swath of the east and south in ukrainian territory, which puts civilians in the crosshairs of the russians? amb. taylor: your question
answers itself. of course not. president zelenskyy, as near as i can tell, a lot give up, not give up any claim to sovereign ukrainian territory. he will not give up claim to crimea or donbass, much less any of these moves the russians have made. john, you are exactly right. these war crimes, these across today's -- these atrocities -- as you have pointed out president biden has called genocide actions -- they motivate the international community, they motivate the ukrainians, they motivate the ukrainian military. even going back to mariupol, mariupol is a symbol. general ben hodges said people are going to analyze the defense of mariupol for a long time, and
the people of ukraine are going to award -- they already have -- hero status to mariupol. however that happens, that will -- you know, we remember things, and they will remember mariupol, and that will motivate them going forward until they win. mr. herbst: thank you. hannah, i would appreciate also your take as to whether zelenskyy could accept a settlement with russia having control over parts of ukrainian territory. ms. shelest: definitely not, or he would not accept the new acquisitions that the russian forces went after in february. ukraine was ready to discuss crimea and donbass at separate
negotiations. we are ready to return back to those negotiations we have. it has been interesting to hear that the estimable negotiations confirmed negotiations about the status of crimea. probably jumping from the amount, but that demonstrates a general position. new acquisitions, ukraine would not go for this, but those that have not been under ukrainian control for the last eight years, it is not that we are rejecting them. ukraine would like return to total control, but at the same time we are ready to conduct them separately. mr. herbst: thank you.
phil, another great ukrainian victory recently was sinking of the flagship of the russian black sea fleet. and the tormentor of odessa, you might say. what is the meaning of this, both in terms of the politics of the war, putin's position, but more importantly the military situation itself? gen. breedlove: it is a great question, and i might just take offense with the way you asked it, in that more important the military part, may be, more importantly is the emotional and representational loss of this ship. i agree and understand your premise, but i must say that, first of all, no one has lost a capital ship like this since the falklands and this is a huge
mark on the professionalism of the navy and of those who are giving directions to the russian navy. that they would leave such a critical asset so exposed, then lose it. and clearly be unable to save it after it was struck. so, this is a blow of immense emotional position to russia. he saw how fast they started to try to cover this with lies and lessen the impact. frankly, a lot of people had a giggle at that, because the crew is so bad they cannot handle a fire, and they lose a ship of this size, that is almost as bad as the ukrainians shooting it with missiles, which we know to be a fact. so, a huge mark there. now, to your point, militarily also a huge impact.
this ship was a big part of the anti-access area and denial bubble that russia was trying to impose on the whole north sea. little reported in this conflict is three ships have been shot and damaged by the russians going in and out of ports in the north sea. >> militarily also a huge impact. this should was a part of a huge bubble that russia was trying to impose on the whole north sea. little reported in this content -- this context are three ships have been shot and damaged by the russians going in and out of ports in the north sea. commercial ships flagged outside nato and one of them i believe
was flagged. russia has been imposing itself in the black sea and this should with the centerpiece of russia being able to impose its position over the ports. and if russia was going to do anything from the sea against odessa or to go in and shell again and mary opal --mariupol this chute would be on the --. >> are you saying the russian navy needs to be taken out --? >> their ability to defend in
the north should there ever be a challenge has definitely lessened. >> hanna, there has been much debate in the united states of support sent to ukraine. what support would you like the biden administration to send ukraine now? >> that is very important words. as germans, definitely the united states cannot read only country supporting the ukrainian military. that is depending on the task. to protect the sky, and be able to come back.
secure it in these discussions. >> i have a friend based in berlin who says he thinks bad german policies are sneaking back in. i hope that is wrong. bill, president zelenskyy says -- ukraine's sovereignty and towards ariel's. -- territorial. is this right? >> president zelenskyy and the conversations in istanbul, these negotiations were serious on the part of the ukrainians. they sent a serious delegation. they had some ideas. one of which -- has referred to.
in the event that the ukrainians would not pursue nato membership and he would pursue an model that would allow them to join the eu, as they are well on the way to do, not join nato under the austrian model. have a very serious defense capability. beyond the defense capability which would be the ultimate plea, what are these security guarantees that they propose. that was a part of the discussion three weeks ago. i am not sure based on what has happened for the last three
weeks in terms of the atrocities of the war crimes president biden calls genocide, i am not sure if those negotiations are real anymore. i am hearing less and less enthusiasm from the ukrainians pursuing that kind of negotiation with the russians. the russians can do what they have been doing. these atrocities we have been seeing. it is not that you have any kind of negotiations with them. and if the ukrainians do offer neutrality, then the question comes up that you raised and that is security guarantee.
of negotiations may be a discussion for neutrality. i would be interested in the thoughts about that. >> here is my very specific question. in lights of these things we have learned, do you think -- is growing if we reach that point? >> it is growing for the reason that you said. it might be in different contexts. maybe that growing support for ukraine, not maybe we should
the bases in japan. here in the discussion, we already heard no foreign minister off ukraine. they are just diminishing but not increasing ukraine security. it is not about nato. it is about -- >> i agree with you that the only that matters is the u.s. guarantee. artillery's or personnel carrier burgers -- this week there is another package of that same size.
interesting if usual to have one package after the other. these include multiple rocket launchers. his last weeks package, this week's package sufficient to help ukraine deal with russian forces in the east and south and what should the ukraine do to help ukraine in the fight. >> your last sentence was the most important sentence you have said and that was, this government needs to make a decision, ukraine needs to win this fight. we do not need to talk about keeping them in the fight, giving them what they need, we want to talk about giving them what they needed to ensure they win the fight. it would be good to hear my administration say that.
that first package was missing some very important things. while we gave them pallet servers, we essentially gave them one battalion word. they are facing the 73 battalion -- battalion tax task force on one side. in this second batch, because there was a human cry about why, are him ir else --mirs. it is a good decision and i hope we can move it but it is already going to be late so we need to push hard to get mrl as there.
we need to consider getting tanks they are in my opinion. they are awesome. i am glad they gave into them. let's remind them captain phil breedlove, when he served with the u.s. army was phasing out u.s. threes. much more firepower, much more capability on the battlefield. there are things we need to think through. before it sounds too negative, we are happy for what is being done. we need to give them the power to fight and win. not subside on the battlefield. the last question is, yesterday there was confusion in her
juice. i am trying to find the exact words used by our administration. our aircraft have been provided to ukraine. there is confusion there. the ukraine air force tweeted out no aircraft are being provided. aircraft parts are being provided. there is some confusion on aircraft that we have got to clean up and look at because we do, in my opinion need to help the ukrainian air force to try to hold the russian air force at bay. especially as they attack into the eez. >> phil, i will. glassware. what do you think ukraine should be doing to win this war? the hardware that we are talking about here with mrl as is in
volume. we need to spend a lot -- we need to send a lot. captain taylor was also in that theater. those are capable and they are mobile. we know there are a lot of humvees that can help move around. the ukrainian military has been so good at being quick and nimble. and able to take advantage of that mobility. the 11 threes, this is all-important.
if it is true what president biden said, if it is genocide, we should be doing everything we can to stop it. we should be doing everything that we can to allow, enabled the ukrainians to stop the genocide. that ought to eject urgency. not to hold onto win. the ukrainians need to defeat the russians. as you mentioned earlier john, they will be back. if they defeated now -- if they defeat it to now, that will reduce their ability to rearm and that will mean the russians are in a bad wave over the current time.
the limit is only weapons of mass destruction that we should be providing. >> if you want to comment on what the russian ship -- the ukrainians should be doing -- >> we could talk for hours about what we need. >> we have a question and feel, i think i will give this to you. you touched on what you said but not entirely. recent reports in the news convey russia has fired jets -- >> i didn't hear the exact words
that our administration use yesterday but apparently what our administration said yesterday is not in alignment with the ukrainian air force and the ukrainian administration said this morning. we need to sort this out. the bottom line is, i have long appealed for more jets for ukraine. the fact we need to get them some, in my mind, israel. now we have some confusion about what is actually going on. what the ukrainian said this morning is they are getting parts for their older aircraft. maybe our administration sees that as that makes more aircraft available by sending them parts. i do not know what the confusion is, but we need to sort it out. >> we have some questions relating to possible use of weapons of mass destruction.
one from james doron says continued failure to resist since putin, cw weapons or biological weapons. it has warranted the use cannot be exist. what do we do to keep putin from using them. i think all of our panels may -- with this. >> let me start with the opening-round. the first and most important thing we need to realize is mr. putin may actually use them.
more importantly, mr. putin is counting on us being deterred by his threats. that is the first hurdle we have to get over in the west. we are almost completely deterred in the west now. by these threats of nukes. we were also deterred by the threat of world war iii. i think we are sort of already in world war iii. the fact of the matter is mr. boudin is counting on us being deterred so he maintains freedom of action. freedom of action and he is using them. >> if we are speaking of mr. putin himself, maybe -- would like -- nighthawk throughout the
we feel that fear in the administration. >> bill burns went on to say that they are watching it carefully. the cia is watching among the things they look at as closely and carefully as any and so far they do not see any reason to believe the russians are actually taking steps in preparation for any of that kind of decision. i was right. this is a complicated decision. hopefully there are people who are hesitant.
it did go back to general lowe's point. we should not be deterred by these threats, we should take seriously. i will go back to the genocide question. if it is indeed genocide, we should not be self-determined. we should be taking steps. everything up to, we should be giving the ukrainians everything up to, but not including weapons of mass destruction so they can stop the genocide. it -- if that is risky, we should take that risk. >> i have a logistics question. john, i do not want to lose the thought on this. most of us learned in more college you want to deter your enemy and not have your enemy
deter you. most of us learned in war college you want to seize and hold the initiative. we need to start thinking about how we regain the initiative and forced mr. putin to react to us. we need to start asking that of questions about how do we redetermine mr. putin. he is not deterred right now. we want him to feel deterred right now. these are two really tough questions but we need to begin to consider them. sorry for interrupting. >> if we deter ukraine with weapons because putin is threatening us with nukes, what happens if he moves on to? a logistics question from barry
smith's, what is the state of ukraine supply line in the east and how did that affect? >> ukraine has been a good job to this point. we need to give them credit of doing some diverse justification of how they move things forward. realize we did not get a lot of what mariupol when -- what mariupol needed when mariupol needed it. they have done a good job. even the press are being asked this question. the russians are beginning to use their long-range strikes. i believe we cannot assume we will have free passage from the various nato nations in the ukraine.
not only the ukrainians are going to have to work on this but i keep trying to use the personal pronoun, we when are we going to get involved? we need to remember the benefits of ukraine. when we talk about the supply of things, we also still have -- more or less some of the the chain of supply organized by the volunteers from the organization. mr. herbst: thank you. we have a question from jack. bill, we will start with you. when insurgency changed russians behavior or just increase the level of oppression on the
civilians? amb. taylor: first of all, don't talk about insurgency. the government of ukraine is a legitimate government and will continue to be a legitimate government. we are not talking about insurgency, we are talking about continued resistance. if your question is about continued resistance by civilians, by territorial defense forces, by partisans, yes, ukrainians know how to do this. i said earlier, ukrainians are very good at dispersed actions, they are very good at territorial defense, they have been working on this for months. that continued resistance -- not insurgency, we are not talking about insurgency. that continued resistance will be effective. if the russians try to maintain
this swath of territory, they are going to have a hard time. that land bridge that they are so proud of is vulnerable to this kind of attack. you talk about our supply lines, the ukraine supply lines from the west to the east, the russians have problems with their supply lines, the russians have problems with their railroads. it is because the ukrainian resistance is attacking those railroads. they have got their own set of problems. let's be clear about who is -- insurgency implies -- that is not what we are talking about here. resistance is partisan and a defense. mr. herbst: we have a question from dr. wayne schroeder. how will the russian performance in the war affect long-term nato defense planning and what do you
expect the new nato concept will look like following the madrid summit? gen. breedlove: to the first point, i would hope that we don't learn wrong lessons immediately. what we are finding out about russia is that for the two decades after the wall fell, where we were, as i say, hugging the bear, trying to bring russia into the west and at the western set of values, etc., we were completely wrong. all the time we were trying to bring them toward the west, they were preparing themselves for the kinds of things we are looking at right now. in 2008, we got a clear message, and we got past that message so fast and tried to get back to hugging the bear and making bad assumptions about the bear right off the bat. now, we are suffering from some of those decisions as we are trying to rebuild nato and rebuild forces in nato. my hope and prayer would be that
we not learn add lessons -- bad lessons and make assumptions that will hurt us in our ability to defend against this very enemy. i was just in europe last week, meeting with nato members and others. one of the great nations that i met with has really reoriented their defensive thinking. they have seen what russia does to cities and they don't now want to give up any of their land in trade for time to allow nato to get ready to fight. what i am trying to say is the reaction of the nations is that we used to think about trading a little space for time for nato to generate and be here. now that they see what russia is doing in its modern form of warfare, taking the fight to the civilian populace, destroying all of the civilian infrastructure, etc., these
nations don't want to be fighting on their territory, they want to meet and defeat at the border as best they can. i hope that, and several conversations with nations talking the same way, i hope that we are going to re-look at that strategic concept to say that we have to be ready to fight farther forward, more forward to stop russia before it comes in and does in the rest of the nations of europe -- moldova, georgia, and nato -- we don't want to see what they're doing to our brothers and sisters in ukraine right now. amb. taylor: if i can just make a point on that, if that is all right. this is why ukraine has to win. this is why ukraine has to win this fight, for exactly that reason. we do not want the russians in ukraine. we want to defend forward.
ukraine is defending forward now for us and they need to win this fight. mr. herbst: bill, i want to tie a bow on the package you just resent to me. chris, of our support, which we all agree is insufficient, says the united states has no dog in this fight. it seems to me what you just said, says we have a vital interest in their success. any comments? gen. breedlove: i totally agree with you. i totally agree with you agreeing with me. ukraine is on the front lines. they are fighting our fight. it is our fight against the russians. it is a democratic fight against autocracy. ukraine is fighting our fight. they are on the front lines and we need to support them. mr. herbst: we have a weston for murray. what part do you envision china playing in the war, if any? gen. breedlove: it's a good question, john. the chinese are observing
carefully what is going on here. the chinese are probably surprised about a bunch of things. they are probably surprised about the severity of the economic sanctions that the west has placed on russia. i suspect that the chinese realize how vulnerable they are. this is a new weapon. we have used this economic weapon in a way that we have never used it before. this is the hardest set of sanctions we have put on any nation ever. number two, the chinese may have thought, maybe putin thought, but the chinese president may have thought the americans were sitting back or content to withdraw, or want to focus internally instead of leading the world. the are surprised. here's the united states again leading the world against the russians, defending -- defending democracy and defending ukraine in this fight. i think the chinese are probably surprised by that, to.
they are probably further supplies -- surprised by the unity of this, not just in europe, but also with the south koreans, japanese, the australians, the new zealanders. the chinese are watching this and i imagine they are taking some lessons. mr. herbst: one more question i want to ask. phil, i know you need to leave. four senators are -- any thoughts on this? phil, any thoughts? gen. breedlove: i am going to be real short. i would not oppose such a thing. i really believe we need to be focused on something, and winning would be a great place to start. and get somebody focused and held accountable, and the rose on their chest and hold them accountable. frankly, i do understand what
our current administration said when it came in, that it was going to be a department of state lead, not a department of defense lead under this administration, but i really believe we need to hear more from the department of defense on this matter now. this is a war that russia is going to carry on with the ugliest of tools and the ugliest of methods, and we need to have, i think, a firm military approach to what we are doing in ukraine. mr. herbst: thank you. l, 30 seconds. amb. taylor: i agree there ought to be a general in charge in the military aspect of that and i think there should be a civilian in charge of assistance, too. when the ukrainians win, and the ukrainians will win, there is going to be an enormous reconstruction effort and there needs to be a coordinated effort on the part of the united states and the international community.
mr. herbst: thank you. 30 seconds. ms. shelest: the issue that we have now and will have, ukraine will need more support. [indiscernible] but we need support of the congress, the ministry of justice, the economy, u.s. banks, state departments, and even the u.s. lawyers. we will have a lot of cases about war crimes, return of profiteers, other things. mr. herbst: thank you very much. thank you everyone for tuning in. we will be doing something -- in a week or two again on the subject. >> now available in the c-span shop, c-span's 2022 congressional directory.
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