Sep 14, 2022
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General Bertolini: What we saw in Kharkiv region cannot be repeated

The world media have different views on the first major success of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in six months. And if the United States and Germany predict further victories for Kyiv, then Italy is sure that the victory of the Ukrainians near Kharkov opens the way to negotiations, and if President Zelensky misses this opportunity, his further fate is unpredictable.

During the counter-offensive operation in the Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian military captured thousands of Russian soldiers. Moreover, the Ukrainian exchange fund even replenished with officers, says the German Die Welt. The media calls the statements of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation that a “regrouping of troops” was carried out in the Kharkiv region “a lie.” The reason is, journalists write, that the defense line suddenly collapsed there, after which the Russian forces “just ran away.” The retreating troops left a lot of equipment and ammunition in the Kharkov region, leaving it all to the mercy of fate. The publication also notes that the Russian army was defeated in the Kharkiv region, as Moscow was preparing for the offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson region.

The American television channel CNN calls the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the north-east of Ukraine “the largest since February 24”, and the capture of Izyum, they believe, “opens up new opportunities for the Ukrainian army in the Donbass.”

Meanwhile, the Italian publication AGI calls the successful counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine “the result of a mistake by Russian intelligence”, but this, according to General Marco Bertolini, the former commander of the Joint Operational Command and Folgore, does not fundamentally change the fate of the conflict in Ukraine, but opens up new opportunities for its peaceful end. Bertolini believes that Kyiv should sit down at the negotiating table from a “position of greater power” than it had before. If the diplomatic route remains closed, the general warns, the Kremlin could escalate when Kyiv no longer has enough men to repeat a blitz like the one that has taken place in recent days.

“While they managed to stage an important demonstration, I believe that now is the right time for the Ukrainians to try to sit down at the negotiating table from a position of strength in order to wrest honorable terms. If this is not the case, then I fear an escalation, because in the face of such a blow, Russia certainly cannot afford to simply let this pass. This is a very delicate moment from an operational point of view, which could be a good opportunity from a diplomatic point of view,” he said.

The general proposes to sit down at the negotiating table “before it’s too late”, and before an irreparable disaster occurs at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, “from which it will be difficult to turn back.”

Bertolini is sure that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not be able to repeat the success similar to Kharkov in the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, just as it was not possible to take them under control for all eight years. The general is also sure that it will not be possible to repeat the success in Kherson. “I believe that the pressure on Kherson will continue, but it is not certain that it will develop into a counteroffensive, since the Ukrainians have a burnout problem and they have suffered heavy losses. What we saw in Kharkiv cannot be repeated,” he predicts.

“We must also remember that the Ukrainians have mobilized the population in a significant part, which the Russians have not yet done. We are at a turning point, which can be defined as a “decision point”, he sums up.

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