While there is no reason to describe the war in Ukraine as a stalemate, both sides going on the offensive at the same time has caused a slight stall, Division Commander Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm said.
Palm said he does not agree with claims the Ukraine war has arrived at a stalemate.
"There is no stalemate now. Rather, things are stalling because both sides want to attack at the same time. But we are definitely not talking about a situation where both sides have exhausted their resources, run out of strength and are simply trying to stare one another down," the general said.
"Looking at Ukraine's recent counterattack or offensive wave, we can say today that it has not achieved the most optimistic goals. But we also cannot describe it as a failure. We must keep in mind that Russia has been active from the first day of the war, been on the offensive and has never made it a secret it wants to conquer all of Ukraine," Palm added.
Rather, it could be said that the Ukrainian counterattack has had a considerable effect on Russian forces, and that Russia's summer and fall offensive has failed completely.
The general said that while Russia has mobilized a lot of human resources and boosted its military industrial capacity, it has largely failed to utilize these aspects on the battlefield.
"Russia has not managed to turn those tens and hundreds of thousands into effective units. There are two main reasons for this. First, Russia has lost a lot of officers needed to train new units – they've lost over 3,000 officers, which hole they cannot just plug. It takes time to create proper units. The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) spends a year training a battalion – we take a year to train 700 people for which we have 100-200 highly trained active members and instructors. While it can be done a little faster, Russia has neither the time nor the instructors it takes," Palm said.
"And constant Ukrainian counterattacks have created a situation where while Russia has managed to mobilize and train 130,000 soldiers inside a year, it has not managed to turn them into major units needed for a breakthrough. Instead, they've been forced to use smaller units to try and plug holes Ukrainian counterattacks have created. They still lack the spearhead they need for a breakthrough," he added.
Palm also said that munitions are the most important resource in this war and that Russia has spent an astronomical amount of shells. While Russia has ramped up its military industry, it is not able to produce enough munitions of sufficiently high quality.
"Russia has consistently been firing over 10,000, even 20,000-30,000 shells per day for a total of some 20 million shells since the start of the war. These are utopian figures. But now secondary effects are entering play. While Russia has managed to grow the volume of its military industry, even up to 20 times regarding some types of munitions, they have problems ensuring quality. A lower-quality shell is less accurate, has less range and causes you to fire more of them. This causes increased wear on artillery pieces and forces you to send for new barrels or entire systems, and that is where Russia will not be able to keep up in the coming months or year," Palm suggested.
"While they are getting new munitions, the price per target is growing. A job that used to take a million shells now takes two or three million," he added.
Ukraine and the West have an advantage in the quality of their artillery shells.
"We have better shells, better artillery with more range, which is allowing Ukrainian units to stay out of range and destroy Russian artillery."
Palm suggested that Ukraine's allies are its most important advantage in the war.
"The coalition that is currently backing Ukraine could help them win the war. Ukraine would definitely lose this war without help from the West, while they might win with our support. It is entirely possible. Russia has switched its military industry into overdrive, while they also have little potential for further growth. They can manufacture shells, cruise missiles and drones, used to attack Kyiv yesterday, while these are still relatively low-quality and simple things. They cannot make more of their most sophisticated weapons systems."
Palm said that the West must keep up its support for Ukraine, betting on defense industry, giving Ukraine a lot of munitions and weaponry and training Ukrainian soldiers.
The EDF general also said that Ukraine can expect extensive drone attacks also this winter as Russia believes hitting civilian infrastructure is one of the few ways it can turn the war around for itself.
Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski