Russian military critic: Ukraine conflict in stalemate

Russian military critic and former military officer Valery Shiryaev says the fighting in Ukraine now appears to be in a stalemate, with neither side having a decisive advantage.

Friday marks four months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. NHK interviewed Shiryaev on Monday.

The critic said Russian forces are likely to soon seize control of Severodonetsk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. He added that the Russian troops will not stop fighting even after taking control of two eastern Ukrainian regions, and will probably attack areas along the Black Sea coast. He said Russia aims to gain control of the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Odesa as well.

Shiryaev said, however, that it is unrealistic to think that Russia can take control of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

As for the Ukrainian side, he said Western countries will send lots of arms and ammunitions to Ukraine from late next month through August. He said Ukraine will then have enough weapons and troops to resist Russian attacks for a long time.

Shiryaev said Ukraine may launch counterattacks in the Kharkiv region in the east and the Kherson region in the south. But he indicated that regaining the areas occupied by the Russians may be difficult, as that would require the fresh input of at least 30,000 organized troops.

Shiryaev expressed concern over a possible direct clash between Russia and Western supporters of Ukraine. He said Russia does not need to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine, but it may use such weapons if it clashes with NATO. He said this would be the most terrifying and worrying scenario.

He also said ceasefire talks are unlikely at the moment as both sides are expecting to win.

Shiryaev added that for Russia, a military defeat in Ukraine would mean the collapse of the current government under President Vladimir Putin -- a scenario that the Russian side would not tolerate.

He said Russia is fighting with a peacetime army. But he indicated that if a Russian defeat looks likely, Putin may declare a mass mobilization of the Russian public.