- A former US ambassador to NATO said Russia lacks the means to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
- Russia began a new phase of its attack on Ukraine last week, focusing on the eastern Donbas region.
- The same Russian “shortfalls” seen in Kyiv may be on display again in the Donbas region, the former ambassador said.
Former US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute said he believes Russia lacks the ability to seize the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Speaking on ABC News “This Week” on Sunday, Lute shared his thoughts on Russia’s capacity to take over Kyiv, after host Martha Raddatz asked if Russian forces had “given up” on the seizing the target, one of its top goals since the invasion began on February 24.
“I think Kyiv is beyond their means,” Lute responded. “They can’t seize Kyiv. They can’t replace the Zelenskyy government. I think they’re still looking for opportunities to figure out what their goals are. They’re sort of making it up as they go along.”
Lute added that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “looking for opportunities” and will “grab the first good one available.”
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Russian forces withdrew from the area around Kyiv earlier this month after several weeks of war with Ukraine revealed a staunch defense and refusal to abandon the city. Ukrainian police said over 900 bodies have been discovered in areas surrounding Kyiv, and many of them appear to be civilians that were “simply executed” by Russian troops.
Russia began a new phase of its attack on Ukraine last week, focusing on the eastern Donbas region. The US and other Western countries are providing additional, heavier weaponry to Ukraine, arming the country for what may be months of intense clashes in the region’s flatter, more open terrain, Insider’s Christopher Woody reported.
On Sunday, Lute said some of the same Russian “shortfalls” may be on display yet again in the Donbas region.
“The problems that the Russian army demonstrated in phase one of this fight, in and around Kyiv, where they failed, Ukrainians outmatched them. Those same shortfalls by the Russian military, I think, will be on display again in the Donbas,” Lute said.
He added: “You can’t reform an army in a matter of a couple of weeks. This is the same Russian army, so I expect many of the same failures.”
The former ambassador said that while Putin may wish to expand Russia’s power and “recreate something like the old Russian empire,” it is “not within his means.”
“There’s a big gap here between his aims and his means,” Lute said. “I don’t think that the situation on the battlefield yet lends itself to some sort of diplomatic, compromise solution. Both sides still imagine that they can win this.”