A high-ranking Kyiv official has provoked a heated public response after saying “the path to victory will be long and difficult” and any suggestion that the war will be over by spring 2024 is “not true.”

 

In a post on Facebook, Deputy Prime Minister for the Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, Iryna Vereshchuk, said Ukrainians should be preparing for “a marathon, not a sprint,” adding: “We need to get ready for a lasting struggle.

 

“Citizens and authorities – all have to adjust to a long and heavy war. And only then will we win.”

 

Vereshchuk’s comments are some of the most pessimistic so far from a Kyiv politician and contrast sharply with previous statements from other officials which have painted a far rosier picture of how far off Ukraine’s victory over Russia is.

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In January, Ukraine’s chief intelligence officer, Kyrylo Budanov, predicted Kyiv’s forces would already be in Crimea by now and in November, Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to the head of the President's Office, said the war would be won by spring 2023.

 

The comments to Vereshchuk’s piece were overwhelmingly negative, with some questioning if Ukraine and its western allies had the resources to fight a “marathon” war.

 

One person wrote: "How can a financially bankrupt country engage in warfare? What happens if Western aid diminishes suddenly?

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A young man was reported killed and three others injured, including a three-year-old child.

 

“The strategy of perpetual war will devastate Ukraine. We weren't equipped for war – let alone a prolonged ordeal like a marathon."

 

Another person wrote: "What ‘marathon’ are you talking about? This is a brutal war in which our soldiers, peaceful people, are dying. What are the definitions? Are you awake?"

 

Another wrote: "So, why have you and other members of the government been incessantly proclaiming, for a year and a half, about achieving victory within 2-3 weeks and the rapid downfall of Russia?

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“Who will take responsibility for systematically deceiving the public through television channels, the Unified Marathon, and favorable bloggers who are being funded by the President's Office?”

 

Aware that Facebook comments often lean to the more passionate side of a debate, Kyiv Post took to the streets of the capital on Thursday morning to get a more comprehensive response to Vereshchuk’s comments.

 

Film director Anatolii, 37, and PR manager Maria, 35, suggested that Vereshchuk was trying to signal to both the Ukrainian public and the country’s western partners, in order to get them used to the idea of a long war.

 

It was a message to all of us,” said Maria. “A message not to relax and wait for the war to end tomorrow because there are no signs of that. But we are not relaxing - it is impossible.

 

“We are trying to live life as well as possible. I think in Ukraine, no one expects the war to end soon. We sometimes switch off from it, but we do not forget.”

 

Retiree Nina, 70, said that although she already understands the war will not be over as quickly as some have previously said, she still has hope that something unexpected could happen like the events in Kherson last year.

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"I would like to believe that the war will stop suddenly,” she said. “With the liberation of Kherson, we were waiting for a long time, then almost gave up any hope.

 

“And then suddenly Kherson was liberated.”

 

Vereshchuk’s post also generated criticism over various corruption scandals which have erupted since Russia’s full-scale invasion. Vereshchuk herself addressed this in her Facebook post, calling it “treason.”

 

Despite her strong stance, her post still provoked angry responses. Referencing several potential corruption scandals and Ukraine’s sluggish response to a lack of drones on the front lines, one person wrote: "Why do we spend money on all sorts of junk like stadiums, drums in shelters, and much more can be listed?

 

“Rusnya [Russains] manufactures weapons and drones on their own. What are we doing at this time?

 

On the streets of Kyiv, there was also criticism of the pace of western military aid given to Ukraine.

 

Retiree Viktor said: "I understand that a country like Russia, with its potential, cannot be defeated without the help of the EU and NATO.

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“But this help is given it by bit. And this every day this wait costs lives.”

 

 

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Comments ( 1)

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Yes the war will be longer but in a weird way imagine if it had been short with a Russian occupation. The fact that it's longer should not demoralize the AFU or the Ukrainian peace that means you are pushing them back bit by bit using your minds to fight. I honor the fallen their passing is not in vain they are heros. Your country stopped a Russian invasion in its tracks that is a testament to your courage and resilient nature. Slava Ukraine!

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