By Aida Mustafaeva
We started our interview with Alexey Leonkov, a renowned military expert and Chief Editor of the magazine “Arsenal of the Fatherland”, by discussing the counter-offensive against Ukraine.
Alexey Leonkov is a highly respected figure in the field of military analysis and has authored numerous articles and books on the subject. His expertise spans a wide range of topics, including military strategy, weapons systems, and international security. As we delved deeper into our conversation, we gained valuable insights into the challenges and the potential solutions that could be implemented to address
When will the possible counter-offensive against Ukraine begin? What are its geographic goals?
Nobody will tell you when the counter-offensive will start. In general terms, it’s a summer campaign. Each campaign had its own goals. It should be understood that the counter-offensive, on the one hand, is really being prepared, and on the other hand, that it will not only be a military operation with the participation of Russian troops. But this is also due to the fact that in the liberated cities, where military and civil administrations will be formed, it is necessary to leave garrisons to maintain order in the liberated territories. The territory of Ukraine is large enough and it must be controlled.
Of course, it would be good to launch this counter-offensive when the enemy is really exhausted, uses up most of its reserves, suffers tangible and loses everything that NATO countries gave him. The most important resource is still qualified specialists, who may call themselves Ukrainian soldiers, but are not. In other words, is the West ready to sacrifice trained specialists to its own interests, without considering the losses and destruction in Ukraine? The question is still open.
Objective is to reach “geographical borders of NATO”
What are Russia’s geographic goals in the offensive?
There are certain objectives. Of course, one of such goals is strategic – it may be the exit to the left bank of the Dnieper. Maybe one of such goals is the liberation of such cities as Nikolayev and Odessa. The most important completion of a special military operation is to reach the border with NATO countries. Previously, maybe this goal was never designated, because we had hoped that in the West they understood that an escalation of this conflict from a regional conflict could turn it into a continental conflict.
But fact is that in Europe, the NATO countries have often begun to say that they are preparing for war with Russia. We understand that if Europe prepares for war with us, then any bridgehead that remains of a quasi-state called Ukraine is damage to our defense. Therefore, the objectives will now go to the geographical borders with NATO countries.
Will there be attacks similar to the Belgorod attack?
I think that terrorist attacks, unfortunately, will accompany the entire course of the special military operation, but their geography will change. The further we move west, the less of a threat there will be for the residents of the Belgorod region and those regions we are liberating. Because, of course, the military assistance that the NATO countries provide to Ukraine, both with weapons and equipment, and even specialists, is not unlimited.
It is clear that the West fights using methods – the hands of Ukrainians – that we would never use. We wouldn’t organize different kinds of terrorist acts. We wouldn’t be terrorizing the local population; we wouldn’t be shelling peaceful neighborhoods. And we wouldn’t be hitting civilian targets.
But the West, which directs all of Ukraine’s actions, has nothing of its own in Ukraine, everything is alien to it and so are the Ukrainians themselves. So when the British express that they «will fight to the last Ukrainian», I think this statement is fully consistent with their aims and intent. Only the Ukrainians don’t understand this. We believe that our compatriots live in Ukraine, so we will save everything we can. First of all, we will save people.
Have their been any changes in the Kremlin’s overall goals and strategy?
The goals and objectives set before the start of the special military operation have changed. We talked about Ukraine’s neutral status, but it turns out that now, Ukraine’s neutral status is also unacceptable to us. The reason is that Ukraine will remain an anti-Russian project with all the consequences that we are seeing now. And that is why we are not going to expose our citizens and their lives to danger. So the main task, apart from demilitarization, de-nazification, is the destruction of all kinds of threats.
And this time, unlike the Great Patriotic War and World War II, we will deal with the carriers of this “virus” of neo-Nazism much more firmly than we did then. At that time, we thought it could be cured. Now we are coming to the conclusion that there is no cure for this virus and for this misanthropic ideology.
On the conflict between Wagner PMC and Russian Ministry of Defense
What are the reasons for the disagreement between the Russian General Staff and Wagner?
I think it’s more of a media dispute. There are certain nuances, and it should be understood that Wagner received all the weapons and uniforms from the Ministry of Defense. All those who fought in Wagner are certainly heroes, and they have no conflict with the Ministry of Defense. There is some controversy about leadership, about individuals who call themselves PMC leaders. But I think these contradictions are likely to be resolved.
How will the weapons given by Britain change the course of the conflict?
They don’t affect the course of the conflict, because it takes a lot more weapons to radically change anything. The amount of armament Britain has supplied, and these are depleted uranium shells, Storm Shadow missiles and Challenger tanks, does make a difference directly on the battlefield, but it does not make any strategic difference to the course of the operation.
Sooner or later they are all destroyed, and if you look at the statistics published by the Ministry of Defense, the score is not in favor of Ukraine and not in favor of its sponsors. But you have to understand that Britain is pursuing its own goals for Ukraine, which I think have nothing to do with the future of this country. They don’t care about that future. Because when they put down depleted uranium shells, they put the lives of ordinary Ukrainians first and foremost in danger. And the fact that they ended up in a munitions depot that was destroyed is directly British fault.
And even though they claim that they had nothing to do with it and that it was the Ukrainians’ fault, it wasn’t the Ukrainians who made the shells and used the armored vehicles that the UK supplied them with. Moreover, after the latest revelations provided by the Federal Security Service of Russia, saboteurs preparing nuclear sabotage against Russia, including the use of tactical nuclear warheads, confirm the information received after the explosion of depots in Khmelnitsky and Ternopil. There was a burst of gamma radiation, which could be consistent with the fact that in addition to the depleted uranium shells, those warehouses could have also contained shells with tactical nuclear weapons.
And the saboteurs caught by the Federal Security Service testified that they had the task of attaching such supplies weighing up to 100 kilograms to the drones that were to attack the territory of the Russian Federation. The weight of the 155th caliber projectile with tactical nuclear weapon fits into the mass of the overall characteristic.