Ukraine's 'Iron General' says Western supplies of mine-clearing equipment are 'insufficient' to achieve a breakthrough against Russia

  • Valerii Zaluzhny, in an article in The Economist, described obstacles encountered by Ukraine.

  • Russian minefields, which stretch back for more than 12 miles, have been a major challenge, he said.

  • Western de-mining equipment has been able to counter the scale of these minefields.

The commander in chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces believes that Western supplies of mine-clearing equipment are "insufficient" in the face of Russia's formidable minefields.

In an article for The Economist, Valerii  Zaluzhny, the so-called "Iron General," said Ukraine's war with Russia had become one of "'positional' warfare of static and attritional fighting, as in the First World War."

He went on to describe the equipment Ukrainian forces will need to achieve a breakthrough, saying that Ukraine didn't have sufficient mine-clearing equipment. 

"Even Western supplies, such as Norwegian mine-clearing tanks and rocket-powered mine-clearing devices, have proved insufficient given the scale of Russian minefields, which stretch back 20km (12 miles) in places," Zaluzhny wrote.

"When we do breach minefields, Russia quickly replenishes them by firing new mines from a distance."

Zaluzhny described the new kinds of technology that could help Ukraine break through the minefields protecting Russian positions in east and south Ukraine.

"We need radar-like sensors that use invisible pulses of light to detect mines in the ground and smoke-projection systems to conceal the activities of our de-mining units," he said.

"We can use jet engines from decommissioned aircraft, water cannons or cluster munitions to breach mine barriers without digging into the ground. New types of tunnel excavators, such as a robot which uses plasma torches to bore tunnels, can also help."

Ukraine launched its much-anticipated counteroffensive to drive Russian forces from east and south Ukraine in the summer.

But Ukraine's military encountered Russian forces dug into heavily fortified positions protected by miles of minefields, and has not made a conclusive breakthrough.

In July, Ukrainian military officials told The Washington Post that Western-supplied de-mining equipment was slow, noisy, and could easily be destroyed by Russian forces.

At the time, a Ukrainian official told the Post that it had only received around 15% of the specialist de-mining equipment it had requested from Western allies. A US official responded that it would provide all the equipment requested, but there were problems providing it on the scale requested in a timely way.

Read the original article on Business Insider