The former commanding general of US Army Europe has said Russia will try to force a pause in the fighting in Ukraine to allow its troops to regroup.
Mark Hertling said in a Twitter thread on Thursday that the conflict is now entering its fourth phase. The first phase involved Russia’s initial intentions to implement a change of government in Kyiv and control the Black Sea and Azov Sea ports.
The second phase involved a battle by both sides for personnel, equipment and ammunition, while the third phase saw a boost to Ukrainian forces.
Hertling said Moscow is now trying to create a “frozen conflict” along the lines of the situation in Transnistria, a Russian-dominated unrecognized republic in Moldova, and the similarly unrecognized breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
But Hertling said a cessation of hostilities could allow Russia to “rebuild and re-attack their force” and that the West “shouldn’t fall for this ruse”.
He said that Moscow “should not be allowed” to create another frozen conflict with “treacherous attempts at a ceasefire”.
“Ukraine will still win this fight, regain their territory and sovereignty. But there is still a lot of fighting ahead,” he said.
Hertling, who commanded the 1st Armored Division and Task Force Iron/Multinational Division-North in Iraq during the 2007 to 2008 military effort, also predicted that Iran, which supplies drones and reportedly missiles to Russian forces, would continue to ramp up. his support for Moscow.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s troops will focus on the “ongoing destruction” of Ukrainian infrastructure and “the suffering of the Ukrainian people as a strategic target to make concessions.”
“Ukrainian morale will be tested” with continued Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, but the country “will persevere”.
After Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, Hertling believed Ukraine’s force “will slowly grow in capacity”, although a continued maneuver east of the Dnieper River and into the Russian-occupied Donbas region “will prove to be a much more difficult fight to be”.
He said Ukrainian forces will face fighting in the east and south of the country, which will be “tougher” due to more difficult terrain, longer supply lines and the issue of new weapons and tactics.
Hertling’s comments come as Petro Kotin, head of the nuclear power company Energoatom, warned of the consequences of continued Russian attacks on Ukrainian nuclear plants, saying on Thursday such attacks risked “nuclear and radioactive catastrophe.”
A day earlier, Ukrainian officials said three nuclear power plants on Ukrainian-held territory had been shut down following the latest spate of Russian missile strikes.
News Week has contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.