Ukraine may have the will, but it may not have the men — or the munitions — to win the war, France’s former Air Force chief of staff, retired General Jean-Palomeros says.

“I’m not sure that the Ukrainians have the human potential in the long term to sustain this war,” Palomeros told AAPA journalists Wednesday (March 14) at a press conference hosted by Bloomberg.

It was not a prediction, added Palomeros, but his sense as a veteran military commander, which includes time he served as a supreme allied commander for NATO.

“They say they have a large reserve, but this war has taken a heavy toll,” he added of the Ukrainians.

Palomeros’ remarks covered France’s military intervention in the Sahel — where it had lost the “the battle of information” to Russia’s private military group Wagner — to President Emmanuel Macron’s push for a stronger, more autonomous European military, to China’s growing influence.

Much of the discussion zeroed in on the war in Ukraine, where Palomeros suggested Russia was clueless about how to run an air campaign “I don’t call it targeting, it’s mass murder,” he said. For their part, the Ukrainians lacked aircraft and trained and experienced pilots, he added.

Palomeros also addressed the complications of sending fighter planes to Ukraine — building an airforce, Palomeros said, demanded far more than delivering aircraft.

On Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, he said Russian President Vladimir Putin might be tempted to open a military front, but it would be too much for him right now.

A big question was how far and long NATO allies are willing and able to support Ukraine. “I can’t see the Russians overthrown and disbanding,” he said, describing Putin’s “quite successful” information campaign in Russia.

For his part, President Volodymyr Zelensky faces a big challenge in trying to claw back Ukrainian territory and save as many Ukrainian lives as possible.

“It is a terrible responsibility,” Palomeros added of Zelensky. “And at some stage he will have to make up his mind about when and where it’s too much.”