Amid ongoing fighting in Eastern Ukraine, and reports of extreme casualties among Ukrainian forces, Polish Armed Forces Chief of General Staff Rajmund Andrzejczak has warned that that Kiev’s position appears to be fast declining. “War always was, is, and there is nothing to indicate otherwise – a matter of politics, and in its determinants has a substantial number of economic factors: finance, infrastructure issues, social issues, technology, food production and a whole set of problems that must be put into this box to understand this conflict… When I look at the conflict in Ukraine, I mainly see it through these political lenses, and unfortunately it does not look good,” he stated. This was primarily on the basis that there was “nothing” to indicate Russia would be unable to sustain its war effort, and that Western economic warfare efforts had failed to prevent this. “Those financial instruments which it had before the conflict, the dynamics of spending, the effectiveness of sanctions, and the whole complex economic situation speak to the fact that Russia will have the money for this conflict,” he stated. This was despite Western countries having seized over $600 billion worth of Russian assets – a move slammed by Moscow as illegal. By contrast Ukraine “has huge financial problems,” with Andrzejczak warning: “We know how much the country needs per month. We know what American assistance amounts to, that of the entire collective West amounts to. We also know what Polish assistance is in this area, because we are the second-largest donor and should probably be a major inspiration for others. The speed of attrition in the financial area is, in my opinion, unfavourable, unfortunately.”
The Polish Chief of General Staff further added that there was little indication that millions of Ukrainians who had left the country would be ready or willing to return home to rebuild, lamenting that many Western leaders failed to realise how far Ukraine was from winning the war. The Western Bloc, he said, “just doesn’t have the ammunition, industry is not ready not only to send equipment to Ukraine, but to replenish our own stocks, which are melting. This awareness is not the same there as it is here on the Vistula River, and it must be communicated firmly, without an aesthetic, to everyone and in all forums, wherever possible, which is what I’m doing.” There has been a stark contrast in reporting on the Ukraine war in the West, and the reports from the frontlines in the country including from Western combatants deployed to major hotspots. A notable recent example has been reports of a ‘meat grinder’ in the city of Bakhmut, a term which reports from the ground used to refer to the extreme casualties taken by Ukrainian and allied forces.
One such source was Konstantin Goncharov, a former Deutsche Welle journalist from Kiev who joined the military, who stated on February 28 after time on the frontlines: “In Bakhmut of course its just a meat grinder. Many recruits who go there [pause] its a lottery for their lives.” He further elaborated that the “intensity of fighting and artillery shelling was colossal, even the people who lived through parts of the hybrid war from 2014 in the Donbas.” Former U.S. Marine Troy Offenbecker similarly referred to “a lot of casualties. The life expectancy is around four hours on the frontline,” and was among multiple sources to highlight the issue. In Western reporting, however, the term ‘meat grinder’ was instead used almost exclusively to claim extreme losses for Russian forces rather than Ukrainian ones in contrast to the reports from the ground. While Ukrainian officials have themselves referred to extreme losses, highlighting that these are being concealed until the war ends, attrition for Ukraine’s arsenals, and particularly its ground based air defence network critical to keeping the Russian Air Force at bay, have fast become an even more serious issue.