In his office overlooking Khreshchatyk Street, the wide boulevard running through downtown Kyiv, Klitschko was dealing with the impact of missile strikes on the city the night before. “We need, right now, unity. We need to be united around the people whom we trust, and Zaluzhny, for two years, successfully helped us defend our homeland. He’s the most trusted man in Ukraine, and to take him from his position was not right,” he said.

Mindful of the perils ahead, Klitschko argued that the time has come for Zelenskyy to consider expanding his government — to stop relying on a tight coterie of trusted advisers and loyalists and instead form a government of national unity, one able to draw from a bigger pool of Ukraine’s best and most talented.

“The period ahead could be very painful for the country, and we shouldn’t be held hostage by mistakes. Two hats are better than one. A government of national unity would be a good thing for the country. And with more people involved, there will be fewer chances to make mistakes,” he added.

The surge in patriotic fervor that saw recruitment centers swamped with volunteers has waned | Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images

Among such mistakes is the slow start to the construction of defense fortifications ahead of an expected spring or summer push from Russia, as well as the failure to resolve an impasse over mobilization and move toward a major call-up.

It isn’t just ammunition and weapons Ukraine desperately lacks — the surge in patriotic fervor that saw recruitment centers swamped with volunteers has waned as the war dragged into its third year. Ukraine is now scrambling to draft men for a battlefield that is chewing up its soldiers.

Ukrainian authorities are conflicted over whether to cajole or coerce people into enlisting amid draft-dodging, and afraid of the political fallout if they choose the latter. Mobilization legislation has been stuck in the parliament for months as Zelenskyy, the parliament and the defense ministry keep passing the buck. But with Kyiv outmanned on the front lines, and Putin reportedly planning to mobilize many more following his sham reelection, the clock is ticking.

“Without sufficient manpower levels, Kyiv will likely consume its available resources at much higher rates, leading to much faster Russian gains in the long term,” warned Konrad Muzyka of Rochan Consulting. “Work on legislation is progressing at a snail’s pace, which further harms [Ukraine’s] ability to defend itself over the following months. Even assuming the best-case scenario that President Zelenskyy signs the law by mid-April, draftees would only start entering the front line by late summer/early autumn.”

“This presents Moscow with a window of opportunity where manpower and artillery ammunition shortages will prevent Ukrainians from mounting effective defensive operations,” he added.