War in Ukraine will be over by end of the year, says head of military intelligence

He also claimed that Russian defeat in Ukraine would lead to the removal of Russian president Vladimir Putin and that a coup was already underway against him
War in Ukraine will be over by end of the year, says head of military intelligence

Ukrainian army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank in north Kharkiv, east Ukraine, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The war against Russia will reach a turning point by mid-August and be over by the end of the year, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence has said.

Major general Kyrylo Budanov told Sky News: “The breaking point will be in the second part of August.

“Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year. As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost including Donbas and the Crimea.” 

Budanov said that Russia was suffering huge losses – although he would not be drawn on Ukrainian casualties – and said he was not surprised by their scale, given Russian power was a “myth”.

“Europe sees Russia as a big threat. They are afraid of its aggression. We have been fighting Russia for eight years and we can say that this highly publicised Russian power is a myth.

It is not as powerful as this. It is a horde of people with weapons.

He said Russian forces attacking the north-eastern city of Kharkiv had been pushed back almost to the Russian border and that their much-reported failure to cross the Siverskyi Donets river had resulted in “heavy losses”.

"I can confirm that they suffered heavy losses in manpower and armour and I can say that when the artillery strikes happened many of the crews abandoned their equipment."

He also claimed that Russian defeat in Ukraine would lead to the removal of Russian president Vladimir Putin and that a coup was already underway against him. 

“They are moving in this way and it is impossible to stop it,” he said. He provided no evidence to support the claim.

In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Russian armoured vehicles on both banks of Siverskyi Donets River after their pontoon bridges were blown up in eastern Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this handout photo provided by the Ukraine Armed Forces on Thursday, May 12, 2022, a ruined pontoon crossing with dozens of destroyed or damaged Russian armoured vehicles on both banks of Siverskyi Donets River after their pontoon bridges were blown up in eastern Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Ukraine seeks evacuation of wounded

Meanwhile, very complex talks are underway to evacuate a large number of wounded soldiers from a besieged steelworks in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol in return for the release of Russian prisoners of war, Ukraine's president said.

Mariupol, which has seen the heaviest fighting in nearly three months of war, is now in Russian hands but hundreds of Ukrainian defenders are still holding out at the Azovstal steelworks despite weeks of heavy Russian bombardment.

In a late-night address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the plight of people trapped at the Azovstal site.

"At the moment very complex negotiations are under way on the next phase of the evacuation mission – the removal of the badly wounded, medics," he said, adding that "influential" international intermediaries were involved in the talks.

Despite Ukrainian resistance, Russian forces have made steady gains in southern Ukraine and the eastern Donbas region.

"We are entering a new, long phase of the war," Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post, predicting extremely tough weeks when Ukraine would largely be alone against an "enraged aggressor".

A part of an apartment is seen at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol. (AP Photo)
A part of an apartment is seen at the side of damaged during a heavy fighting buildings in Mariupol. (AP Photo)

In its latest bulletin, Russia's defence ministry said its forces had hit Ukrainian command posts, ammunition depots and other military equipment in several regions, including the Donbas, killing at least 100 Ukrainian "nationalists".

Reuters could not independently verify the report.

Footage on Friday showed the bodies of Russian soldiers being brought to a rail yard outside Kyiv and stacked with hundreds of others in a refrigerated train, waiting for the time when they can be sent back to their families.

“Most of them were brought from the Kyiv region, there are some from Chernihiv region and from some other regions too,” Volodymyr Lyamzin, the chief civil-military liaison officer, told Reuters on Friday as stretcher-bearers in white, head-to-toe protective suits lifted bodybags into the boxcars.

He said refrigerated trains stationed in other regions across Ukraine were being used for the same grim purpose.

While there have been no reliable estimates of the scale of Russia's losses, the scene provided a bitter taste of the price President Vladimir Putin is paying since ordering the invasion of Ukraine.

A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Making their fastest territorial gains since forcing the Russian invaders to abandon an advance on Kyiv over a month ago, Ukrainian forces have driven their enemies away from the second-largest city, Kharkiv.

The northeastern city, which had been under fierce bombardment, has been quiet for at least two weeks. However, Moscow is still bombarding nearby villages, including Dergachi, some 10 km north of Kharkiv.

"I can't call it anything but a terrorist act," Dergachi Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko told Reuters after missiles struck a building used to distribute aid.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox