Ukraine pledges to enter Crimea ‘by end of year’
The Ukrainian military will turn the tide in the conflict with Russia and enter Crimea by the end of the year, Kirill Budanov, the head of intelligence at Ukraine’s defense ministry, has said.
The situation on the battlefield is going to change in Kiev’s favor from August when new weapons supplied by the West reach Ukrainian units, Budanov told Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper on Tuesday.
“That’s what will bring forth the turnaround because now we are catastrophically short of heavy weapons,” he said.
“Russia has 12 months of resources to wage a full-scale war” and after that the conflict between Kiev and Moscow would end with “the return of our occupied territories,” the intelligence chief claimed.
When asked if those “occupied territories” included Crimea, which overwhelmingly voted to part ways with Ukraine and join Russia in a 2014 referendum, Budanov replied by saying that “by the end of the year, we must at least enter Crimean territory.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who also spoke on Tuesday, shared completely different projections of the likely developments on the ground in Ukraine.
“Despite the large-scale military assistance from the West to the Kiev regime and sanction pressure on Russia, we will continue with the special military operation until all of its goals are fulfilled,” he said.
Russia launched an offensive against Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.