Russia has all but abandoned efforts to take more territory and is now focusing on defending its positions in preparation for a brutal counteroffensive by Ukraine, the head of military intelligence in Kyiv has said.
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said Vladimir Putin‘s forces were channeling almost all of their offensive operations into trying to capture the bitterly-contested city of Bakhmut.
Decorated Major General Budanov, 37, did not reveal details about Ukrainian battle plans, but promised that a highly-anticipated counterattack would be a ‘landmark battle in Ukraine‘s history’.
It comes after Yevgeny Prighozin, the head of the feared Wagner mercenary group of Russian fighters, declared his forces had taken Bakhumt earlier this month. The city has not fallen and has continued to see heavy fighting.
Budanov taunted Prighozin in his latest interview with RBC Ukraine, saying that Putin’s crony has nothing to celebrate with the meagre gains and huge losses suffered by Russian forces.
Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said Putin’s forces have all but abandoned efforts to take more territory
Budanov said that Russian military command is trying to employ similar tactics to those in Bakhmut in the cities of Avdiivka and Marinka, which are also in the embattled Donetsk region, but with limited success.
Outside the area, Budanov said, Putin’s forces ‘have completely switched to positional defense everywhere.’
‘The only places on the frontline where they are making attempts are in the city of Bakhmut, an attempt to cover the city of Avdiivka from the north, and localized fighting in the city of Marinka.
‘Both in Avdiivka and Marinka the tactics are identical to those in Bakhmut – just an attempt to wipe the settlement off the face of the earth, as they say,’ he said.
Pictures out of the two cities show scenes of utter devastation caused by shelling.
In one scene of destruction, a local resident rides on his bike past a shopping mall destroyed by rocket strike in the frontline town of Avdiivka.
Another picture shows a bombed-out residential building in the town.
A local resident rides past a shopping mall destroyed by rocket strike in the frontline town of Avdiivka, Donetsk region on April 25, 2023
A local resident walks in front of a mural depicting a woman with a child on a wall of a heavily damaged residential building in the frontline town of Avdiivka
Budanov also revealed that he believes there is little chance of Vuhledar in the Donbas region, which has been the site of a major tank battle, being captured by Russian forces.
The intelligence chief went on to speculate about the increased pressure at home faced by Putin and the Russian military leadership, as heavy losses fail to stack up to any major gains in what was originally presented as a short-term ‘special military operation’.
‘Against the backdrop of the lack of success elsewhere, they face the problem that even their “deceived” society needs to see something, some kind of victory,’ he said.
Major General Budanov, 37, did not reveal details about Ukrainian battle plans, but promised that a highly-anticipated counterattack would be a ‘landmark battle in Ukraine ‘s history’
Ukrainian servicemen from the 115 Territorial Defence brigade attend an exercise near the border with Belarus
‘This is the only place where they succeed at least. In addition, there is the fact that Prigozhin once said that he would take Bakhmut.
‘He would be happy to sing about it, but he can’t. That is, everything just came together here,’ Budanov said.
His comments were made as Russian casualties have dropped by almost a third this month, British intelligence reports, with Moscow is said to be scaling back its attacks and preparing for an onslaught by Kyiv.
In his wide-ranging interview, Budanov also slammed the Russian president for his alleged use of body doubles, contending that he had not visited the occupied areas of Luhansk, Mariupol and Kherson in recent weeks.
Russian President Vladimir Putin alongside propogandist Dmitry Peskov, who has denied the 70-year-old dictator uses body doubles
The Kremlin was forced to issue an extraordinary denial that Vladimir Putin uses body doubles and hides in nuclear bunkers amid rumours about the warmonger’s health.
Putin’s mouthpiece Dmitry Peskov – a senior Kremlin official – insisted that the Russian president is in good health, even telling schoolchildren that him using body doubles was a ‘lie’.
In a further update, Budanov also revealed yesterday that Ukraine and Russia are nearing an agreement on an ‘all-for-all’ prisoner exchange.
The military chief noted that Ukraine has released over 2,200 people within the prisoner of war exchange programme, and that Ukrainian troops had also been returned home.