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28 Dec, 2023 12:31

Ukrainian army will collapse within months – Russian governor

Hostilities will likely end by late spring or early summer, the head of Zaporozhye Region has predicted
Ukrainian army will collapse within months – Russian governor

By spring or summer 2024, the Ukrainian army will likely no longer be a credible fighting force, according to Yevgeny Balitsky, the governor of Russia’s frontline Zaporozhye Region.

Balitsky cites his military experience as well as grapevine signals from the other side as the sources of his insight into the situation in Ukraine. Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, he cited “tectonic shifts” in Ukraine that he expects to “finish it off from the inside.”

“Most likely [the hostilities] will end in late spring or early summer,” he said. “The Ukrainian army will collapse.”

Zaporozhye Region joined Russia last year, after a referendum of local voters last year. Ukrainian officials have dismissed the vote as a “sham” and seek to capture the region by force, along with neighboring Kherson Region and three other Russian federal subjects that broke away from Kiev in the wake of an armed coup in 2014. Neither side in the ongoing conflict is in full control of Zaporozhye Region, which is located northeast of Crimea.

In a separate interview this week with Zvezda TV, the official Russian Defense Ministry channel, Balitsky identified Kiev’s lack of manpower as the key factor, which he believes will lead to the fall of the Ukrainian army.

He estimated that Kiev has roughly 1 million fighting-age men to draft from. Others have fled the country, are too young or too old to be soldiers, or are already serving in security agencies such as the border guard service or the SBU, he argued.

“They are trying now to drag people from cellars, houses and garages, where they are hiding, by their noses and ears,” Balitsky claimed, referring to Kiev’s ongoing mobilization effort.

“The winter will be critical for the Ukrainian army. And the spring will be victorious for us,” the official told the outlet.

On Monday, a bill was introduced in the Ukrainian parliament which would radically alter military service in the country. Among other things, it provides for harsh punishments for draft dodgers. People failing to report for duty would be denied basic rights under the proposed system, including control over their assets and the permission to drive vehicles.

Senior Ukrainian officials have urged foreign nations hosting Ukrainian refugees to help Kiev coerce eligible recruits into returning home. Estonia has indicated that it was willing to assist.