Putin Has 9 Months To Win Ukraine War, Former NATO General Says

Russia has eight to nine months left to win the war before Ukraine's counteroffensive will be able to push Russian forces out of the country, former NATO General Konstantinos Loukopoulos said.

Talking to Al Jazeera, Lieutenant General Loukopoulos, a retired NATO commander who has taught tank warfare at military academies in Kyiv and Moscow, said that Ukrainian forces have recently been successful at pushing back Russian troops in the northern cities of Chernihiv, Sumy and Kharkiv, but they will need to put all the weaponry supplied by Western countries to use to defeat Russian forces and take back occupied territory.

But that will take time, said the former general. Ukraine will need up to nine months to assimilate the military equipment it has received from Western countries to support its counterattack on Russia, according to Loukopoulos.

"Tanks and armored vehicles need an initial stage of personal training and team training for the driver, gunner, reloader and commander," Loukopoulos told Al Jazeera.

"They need tactical training, including test firing and exercises, which cannot be done in a few weeks. The training cycle is at least six months, and that doesn't change in wartime," he said.

"For Ukraine to absorb the weapons from the West and make them operational, form the right units, and train them, it needs eight, nine months. It can't pull active units from the front to train them," the former general told Al Jazeera, adding that that is the timeframe Putin has to win the war in Ukraine.

The Greek former general believes that right now Russian forces have the upper hand in Ukraine, but there could be an upheaval in the next few months as Ukrainian forces start operating all the equipment sent by the West.

"After a few months, with training of reserve units, there could be a [Ukrainian] strategic counteroffensive that could throw the Russians out," Loukopoulos said. But right now, he believes Ukrainian forces cannot launch such a large-scale counterattack.

Ukraine has been pleading for more weapons from Western countries, saying these are necessary to match the firepower available to the Russian forces.

"We need the help of our partners—above all, weapons for Ukraine. Full help, without exceptions, without limits, enough to win," said Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in his latest address to the nation. Zelensky had already made such a plea at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos earlier this week.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, speaking at the WEF, said multiple launch rocket systems are "badly" needed by Kyiv to respond to Russian fire.

On Wednesday, Russia launched fresh attacks in eastern Ukraine, including on the city of Sievierodonetsk, which local authorities said is in danger of being completely encircled by Russian troops. Luhansk regional Governor Serhiy Haidai said the area has run short of gas supplies and has limited water and electricity.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games medalists and paralympic athletes at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on April, 26, 2022, in Moscow, Russia. A former NATO general said Putin has 9 months to win the war before Ukraine is able to launch a large-scale counteroffensive. Contributor/Getty Images