"Ukrainian Army's Efforts to Counter Threats: Wagner Mercenaries, German Arms Deliveries, and Expectations for NATO Summit"
"Dying is the Worst Thing that Can Happen"
North of Kiev, the Ukrainian army is training. Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev discusses the threat posed by Wagner mercenaries, German arms deliveries, and his expectations for the NATO summit in an interview with ARD.
A headline for the first part: "Ukrainian Army Trains to Confront Threats from Wagner Mercenaries and German Arms Deliveries"
An armored vehicle drives by the Kiev Sea, the reservoir north of the Ukrainian capital. Armed soldiers jump out of the massive vehicle. The young men survey their surroundings, moving purposefully to their positions. They exchange short commands and gunshots ring out.
Described here is an exercise of the Ukrainian armed forces. Media outlets have been invited because the military wants to present an image of strength to the public. This is also due to the lack of visible success along the frontlines so far.
The goal of the exercise is to stop an enemy sabotage reconnaissance group on land and water. Ukrainian soldiers navigate boats across the reservoir. Other armies also conduct such exercises, but these soldiers must actually fight on the front lines. The threat is real.
"Threat from Wagner Mercenaries in the North?"
Just last Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered increased protection for the north of the country. One of the reasons is the possible presence of Russian Wagner mercenaries in Belarus. Lieutenant General Serhiy Nayev is responsible for the northern sector. Nayev, one of Ukraine's highest-ranking military officials, is personally present during the exercise at the reservoir. In an interview with ARD, the lieutenant general states:
"In light of the current threat situation, we are fulfilling our task, and our forces are sufficient. However, in order to continue to do so in the face of increasing threats, a certain strengthening of our forces and resources is necessary."
According to Nayev, there are currently no recorded movements by the Wagner group. "But we have calculated the worst-case scenario and are preparing ourselves under such conditions." Currently, Nayev sees the greatest potential danger in "nuclear blackmail" by Russia, particularly concerning the occupied Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant.
"Challenges of Dealing with Minefields"
When asked about the pressure from Western capitals regarding high expectations for a counteroffensive, the Ukrainian lieutenant general states, "Personally, I don't feel it. That's the realm of politics. I deal with military matters. We want to win as quickly as possible."
However, quick military successes do not seem likely at the moment. Russian soldiers along the front lines have dug deep into their positions, and the numerous minefields pose a significant challenge for Ukrainian soldiers to overcome. Additionally, they are constantly under artillery fire.
"Slow Progress and High Losses"
Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Saluschnyj emphasizes to the Washington Post that his soldiers still manage to advance several hundred meters every day, albeit slowly and with high casualties. According to Saluschnyj, achieving faster military successes requires more of everything.
Nayev expresses gratitude for Western support, specifically mentioning Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius by name. Regarding the ongoing counteroffensive, he aligns himself with Saluschnyj, stating that more deliveries are needed, including from Germany: "Of course, tanks, air defense systems that Germany possesses, and, of course, artillery ammunition and missiles. We are grateful for any assistance, and I want to emphasize that we only use it to defend the territorial integrity of Ukraine."
"High Expectations for the NATO Summit"
The Ukrainian lieutenant general has high expectations for the NATO summit in mid-July in Vilnius. He hopes for "a clear signal with concrete dates regarding when Ukraine will become a full member of the defense alliance."