Top spy says Russia will run out of ‘military tools’ by spring
KIEV, Ukraine – Russia will run out of “military tools” to achieve its war goals in Ukraine by the end of spring, the top official of Ukraine’s military intelligence predicted in an interview with USA TODAY.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov’s prognosis comes amid considerable uncertainty about what the next phase of the war will be as it enters its second year. For weeks, Ukrainian officials had been signaling that Russia was planning a major new offensive that would coincide with the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. A remarkable new offensive has yet to take place.
“Russia has wasted huge amounts of human resources, weapons and materials. Its economy and production are not able to cover these losses. It has changed its military chain of command. If Russia’s military misses its targets this spring, it will lose its military tools,” Budanov said in his heavily guarded, fortified Kiev office, which he shares with two pet frogs, poison gas detector canaries and an array of ammunition.
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Budanov further predicted that Ukraine and Russia “would fight a decisive battle this spring, and this battle will be the last before this war ends”. He did not provide concrete evidence for his claims. And it is important to note that Moscow and Kiev are engaged in intense information warfare and are fighting on the battlefield. Some military experts have warned that both sides must be prepared for a long battle.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has belied many expectations, let alone predictions. Nevertheless, at least this much can be said with certainty: We are far from the end of this war. The breakthrough is in the offing. Russia and Ukraine both continue to believe that if they keep fighting, they will win. No mediator can break this deadlock,” Rajan Menon and Benjamin H. Friedman of the Washington, DC-based think tank Defense Priorities said in a joint statement last week, a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Still, Budanov’s prognosis seems to agree with the consensus view of independent military analysts that Russia currently lacks the ammunition, military supplies and sufficient numbers of skilled, organized and motivated soldiers to make any significant advance against Ukrainian defenses in eastern Ukraine, where fighting is raging are the most violent.
“Russia has lost about half of its tanks, its artillery fire is down, it does not have a productive base to make much new equipment. And making new equipment is not easy under sanctions. So it’s going to have to take stuff out of storage,” said Phillips P. O’Brien, professor of strategic security studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.
“Ukraine is stronger now than it was on February 24 (last year, the day of the invasion). You get better systems. It integrates many NATO systems. Russia is weaker in terms of equipment. It has fewer well-trained troops, less front-line equipment. The only thing that’s more is soldiers, but I’m not a big fan of crowds of untrained soldiers,” he said.
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In late December, the Pentagon assessed that the Russian military was likely to run out of newer stockpiles of ammunition by early 2023, forcing it to rely on stocks produced during the Cold War. These stocks are less reliable and may be degraded.
Russia has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear warheads – although Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have largely ruled out the use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
Budanov, 37, is the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. At the age of 34 he became the top official of the Ukrainian military intelligence service. He is one of the youngest generals in Ukraine’s history, and his name was recently floated by lawmakers as a potential replacement for Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister. He is also an enigmatic former special forces commander who is believed to have participated in a number of secret special operations behind enemy lines.
Some of his earlier forecasts for the overall course of the war have proved correct. In a November 2021 interview with USA TODAY, Budanov predicted that by the end of the year Russia would gradually escalate a series of false flag provocations as a pretext for an invasion, unleashing an energy crisis, economic turmoil and food insecurity in countries that depend on exports Of Ukraine. All of these things happened later.
In this latest interview, conducted in mid-February, Budanov said the war will not end until Ukraine’s Crimean Black Sea region is liberated from Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also made the return of Crimea and all other Russian-occupied areas to Ukraine a condition of a peace settlement. Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently said in an online forum that losing Crimea, which contains a naval base, to Ukraine would cross a “red line” for Russia and likely risk an escalation of the war.
In the interview, Budanov dismissed suggestions from influential Western opinion and policy makers who claim that by supplying Ukraine with more and more heavy weapons, NATO risks being drawn into a wider war with Russia.
“I apply a different logic when I look at this problem,” he said. “This conflict has already turned into an existential war between Russia and the West. Yes, the West is not taking part in this war with its military. But he provides us with weapons to use in battle. What is meant is a Ukrainian. The victory over Russia is a joint victory. And if Ukraine falls, though unlikely, it will be a defeat for all of Western civilization.”
In recent days, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China, which has not condemned Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, is considering supplying Moscow with arms and ammunition. Beijing has already provided civilian aid.
“Ukraine is getting stronger, Russia is getting weaker. China can change that,” O’Brien said.
Still, Wesley Clark, a retired US four-star general and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said in an interview that while China has “significant military equipment and a very large force, it is unlikely to modernize much of that equipment, particularly.” army equipment. China’s priority was naval, air and missile modernization. … It may not have the masses of new hardware that Russia needs.