10:48 21 Feb 2024

Russia doesn't have enough resources to fully seize Luhansk and Donetsk region this year – Ukraine's intel chief

Photo: Reuters

In an interview with WSJ, the chief of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, expressed the opinion that Russia lacks sufficient strength to achieve its primary strategic goal — the capture of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by the end of this year. 

"They don't have enough strength," said the intel chief.

Budanov acknowledged that Ukrainian forces, inferior to the Russia occupiers in terms of numbers and weaponry, were in a difficult position.

At the same time, the head of Ukrainian intelligence assured that "Russia also has problems" because its army significantly depleted in the first year of the invasion. Now, it has to deploy untrained conscripts for suicidal assaults. The Russian military also uses more artillery shells than Russia can produce. 

Western officials and analysts consider Budanov's forecast to be the optimal scenario for Ukraine this year.

If Ukraine can conduct a smart defensive fight, wearing down Russian forces while restoring its own, it can launch a new counteroffensive against the weakened opponent in 2025.

A recent study by the Royal United Services Institute in London showed that Russian forces are likely to reach their peak by the end of this year. By 2025, they will increasingly experience shortages of ammunition and armored vehicles.

According to WSJ, Ukrainian leadership, Western military planners, and analysts expressed concern about the shortage of equipment and manpower after Ukraine's failed counteroffensive last year.

Russia demonstrated that they were able to recruit soldiers for their army. According to Budanov, the Russian army has 510,000 servicemen in Ukraine and around it, with the capacity to recruit about 30,000 per month.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky stated in December that Ukraine has about 600,000 servicemen, although military commanders said not all of them were combat-ready.

The publication also stressed that Moscow does not use its forces effectively — all its minor advances are made at the cost of tens of thousands of lives.

Budanov also tried to consider the capture of Avdiivka in a broader context. According to him, the Russian army took nearly two years of heavy assaults since the beginning of the full-scale invasion to capture the city.

According to other estimates, it took almost ten years as the Russians had been attacking the city since 2014.

"Is this a success for the mighty Russian army?" Budanov asked.

Front-line situation

Ukrainian soldiers continue inflicting losses on occupational forces in manpower and equipment, exhausting the enemy along the entire front line.

Yesterday, on February 20, Ukrainian soldiers repelled 20 Russian attacks on the Mariupol front, held their positions, and repelled the assaults of occupational forces on the Kherson front.

The Ukrainian forces also eliminated over 1,100 Russian occupiers. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Russian losses in terms of manpower have already exceeded 406,000 soldiers.

On February 17, it became known that the Ukrainian forces received the order from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Syrskyi, to leave Avdiivka for pre-prepared positions

British intelligence said the Russian army lacked combat capability to exploit the Avdiivka seizure effect.

ISW also analyzed the Russian army's actions on the Avdiivka front. They believe that the Russian occupiers will have to take an operational pause before resuming offensive operations or redeploy reinforcements from other front sectors to prevent the culmination of operations near Avdiivka.

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