What the Luhansk experience showed, Ukrainian Ground Troops Commander Col-Gen Oleksandr Syrskyy has said in an interview with The Economist, was that Vladimir Putin’s conscription drive can work. Reasonably well-prepared soldiers are now appearing en masse all along the eastern frontlines, some arriving from “from the depths of Russia, including…from the eastern districts and the Urals”.
That is a concern, the general said, but an even more pressing worry is keeping up Ukraine’s arms supplies. Ammunition is being consumed at a rate that is comparable to that during the second world war. Battles are being won by whichever side gets shells delivered to guns quickly enough.
Asked what victory looks like, Gen Syrskyy said: "We've won when the enemy is destroyed and we are standing on our borders."
His sobering assessment of the current predicament suggests that he isn’t convinced that will happen any time soon. For the immediate future Ukraine will offer what he describes as "active defence". But the commander's record suggests that he may have something more ambitious up his sleeve.
"All I will say is we are studying the enemy closely. And every poison has an antidote," he added.