Kiev’s attempts to advance on the front line remain fruitless and are resulting in high battlefield losses and decreasing morale among Ukrainian troops, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said.
“Despite the supply of new kinds of NATO weapons, the Kiev regime is losing. The Russian forces keep conducting active defense, effectively inflicting damage,” the minister said during a governmental meeting on Wednesday.
Shoigu specifically highlighted the successes of Russian air-defense troops, praising them for delivering over 1,400 successful intercepts of Ukrainian assets last month. The downed targets include 37 planes and six ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles, he claimed. The US provided the latter capability earlier in October, after months of requests by the Ukrainian government.
Shoigu compared the number of downed Ukrainian planes with the number of F-16s that had been promised to Ukraine by Western donors. The pledged fleet would require Russia roughly 20 days to destroy at the rate demonstrated last month, he noted.
Western governments have vowed to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” to defeat Russia on the battlefield, but their ability to deliver on the promise remains in question. The conflict in the Middle East, which erupted last month and caused a surge in demand for weapons by Israel, has further weakened Kiev’s ability to secure Western assistance.
Ukraine aid has become a point of contention in the opposition-majority US House. Newly appointed GOP Speaker Mike Johnson last week rejected the White House proposal to bundle together spending on several security goals, including Ukraine. A bill he put to the floor on Monday proposes a separate $14.3 billion package for Israel. US President Joe Biden said he would veto it.
The cost of the conflict to EU nations has put pressure on their governments, as voters are turning to parties that pledge to prioritize national interests over supporting Kiev, as exemplified by the general election in Slovakia in late September. Its newly-elected Prime Minister Robert Fico has opposed aiding Ukraine, citing Kiev’s corruption issues.