A Ukrainian intelligence official says the country is planning a major counter-offensive in the spring.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s General Intelligence Service, said in an interview with ABC News that Ukraine is planning a major counterattack in the spring. He warned that the fighting will become “hottest” in March of this year.
“That’s when liberating territories and facing Russia’s final defeat. This will happen all over Ukraine, from Crimea to the Donbass,” Budanov said.
The Ukrainian government has repeatedly insisted that it will not give up any territory, including the Crimean peninsula and the Russian-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, also known as the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. These are also the regions that have been declared annexed to Russia after controversial referendums.
“Our goal, and we will achieve it, is to go back to the 1991 border when Ukraine was recognized by all subjects of international law,” Budanov added.
At the end of December last year, Mr. Budanov announced that Ukraine would retake the Russian-controlled Crimea peninsula with a combination of military and diplomatic action. Mr. Budanov said he did not expect a fundamental change in the Ukrainian frontline in the winter because “Russia is entering a dead end”.
Andrii Cherniak, a spokesman for the Military Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said on January 3: “According to Ukrainian military intelligence, the Russian side will seek to continue the offensive this year… “We’re looking at the possibility that they can attack simultaneously from the north or east. We’ve foreseen and are ready for that scenario.”
Cherniak said that Russia will seek to maintain control of the land corridor connecting the Crimean peninsula and the entire Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. However, according to him, Russian forces could not cross the Dnipro River to regain control of the southern city of Kherson.
Earlier, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi also assessed that Russia may attack again in Kiev, opening a large-scale offensive in January or in the spring. The Ukrainian military is mentally prepared for the scenario that Russia launches a massive offensive at the time of the first year of the conflict, that is, next February.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out on February 24. Within half a year, Russia controlled areas equivalent to 18% of Ukraine’s territory. So far, Ukraine has regained about 40% of it, Mr. Zaluzhnyi said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on January 4 that Kiev hopes to be able to deploy the US-made Patriot air defense system in the near future. He confirmed that preparations for the Patriot transfer had been completed.
“We are expecting the Patriot to be deployed as soon as possible,” Kuleba said in an online video published by Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Facebook.
The United States pledged to supply Ukraine with batteries of the advanced MIM-104 Patriot long-range air defense system during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington last month.
“We appreciate this move by the United States,” Kuleba said, adding that Zelensky and Ukrainian diplomats were still “actively working” to ensure the continued supply of weapons by the West. new to Kiev, including tanks and other military hardware.