Andriy Zagorodnyuk, the former defense minister of Ukraine, spoke with Fox News Digital about the Ukrainian counteroffensive, offering insight into how Russian mines have slowed the Ukrainian military and what to expect as the war continues.
Zagorodnyuk said Russian mines have significantly slowed the counteroffensive and in some instances, mines are only a few feet apart making it difficult for Ukrainian forces to travel short distances quickly.
“They are looking more carefully about where to move and how to open up because we’re talking about approximately 2 million mines,” he said. “There’s intense mining in some areas.”
Zagorodynyuk explained that the demining process takes a long time, and in newly liberated areas, a team of humanitarian deminers needs to come in to clear the area of potential mines.
He added that demining in areas under fire from the Russian military is “extremely difficult.”
“We can explode mines, we can send in some kind of bombs to explode the mines or something like that. But it’s extremely tough. So there’s no magic solution to demining in this case,” he told Fox News Digital.
The former defense minister said a larger supply of spare parts would help Ukraine substantially because maintenance is a “huge issue right now.”
The U.S. agreed in January to send 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, and Germany and Poland committed to sending Leopard tanks.
Zagorodnyuk said the different makes and models and the different spares from different countries are “like a nightmare of its own.”
“To kind of supply us [with] more spares and supplies, maybe a chance to make spares at home, you know, because we can do manufacturing at home and so on… that would substantially improve the situation because that would mean that the maintenance would be going much faster,” he explained.
The distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center told Fox News Digital that Ukrainian counteroffensive plans were made without contingencies for aviation because conversations regarding F-16s were still taking place.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, told “The Story” in late July that F-16s would probably get to Ukraine “towards the end of the year.” “But it’s not our assessment that the F-16s alone would be enough to turn the tide here,” Kirby said.
Zagorodnyuk said F-16s would provide the Ukrainians with long-range power fire and would allow them to create more NATO-centric planning operations, relying on air supremacy to strike enemy targets.
“Right now what we do is a complete innovation. Nobody did that before… so nobody knows how to fight [the] war like ours without aviation,” he said. “There are no rule books written for the war like we’re fighting now.”
“And that’s why… yeah, it may go not as fast as somebody wanted, but we are having a substantial challenge,” Zagorodnyuk continued.
Bryan Stern, a former counterintelligence officer and the founder of Project Dynamo, told Fox News Digital that U.S. armor operations are predicated on using tanks and close air support in tandem.
“If you’re a U.S. Army instructor training a bunch of Ukrainians on how to do tank warfare, we’ve left out half the manual with them. That makes no sense. That’s just kind of silly,” Stern said.
“And then we’re going to cry when all the tanks get blown up by the Russians? And we’re going to say ‘Well we gave them all these tanks, what a waste of money.’ Well, probably all we had to do was follow our own rulebook and give them what they need to be effective with joint integrated fires.”