On Friday, February 20, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center hosted a conference call on recent developments in Ukraine with retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and current Atlantic Council Board member.

On February 17, two days after a cease-fire was supposed to go into effect, Russian-backed separatists advanced on the strategic railroad junction of Debaltseve in Ukraine forcing most Ukrainian troops to retreat. The expansion of separatist control to Mariupol and Debaltseve is a medium-term goal in a Kremlin-orchestrated war in Ukraine, Clark said.

Clark drew a detailed comparison of technological capabilities of Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army. The separatists use more advanced weapons and up-to-date technology, which Russia supplies to them from across the border, he said.

While there are facilities in Ukraine that could produce tanks and modern weapons these are tailored to complement Russian military production, underlined Clark.

On a standalone basis, Ukrainian military production is fractured and cannot compete with that of Russia, he added.

Clark said that while there is an urgent need to provide Ukrainian armed forces with lethal defensive weapons, there is an even greater need for structural reforms and military training in the Ukrainian army.