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3 May, 2024 09:27

Ukraine on brink – top spy

Kiev lacks arms and motivated soldiers, but peace talks are unlikely before 2025, its deputy intelligence chief has told The Economist
Ukraine on brink – top spy

A Ukrainian military victory over Russia is unfeasible, a senior military intelligence official in Kiev has predicted. Peace talks with Moscow are nonetheless unlikely before 2025, he claimed.

Vadim Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukraine’s GUR military intelligence agency, shared his grim perception of the frontline situation in an interview with The Economist published on Thursday.

He expects Russia to launch a major offensive by the end of May or the beginning of June, with Kiev’s forces badly positioned to prevent it. “Our problem is very simple: we have no weapons,” Skibitsky explained.

Kiev’s armament woes will not be addressed anytime soon, even after the US approved an additional $60 billion in Ukraine-related spending, the British magazine reported, saying it will be weeks before new aid filters through to the front line.

A lack of willing draftees is also undermining Kiev’s war effort, including those recruited under draconian new rules, the report stated.

Skibitsky reiterated Kiev’s claims that Moscow intends to capture the Donbass city of Chasov Yar by May 9, when Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

The Ukrainian military leadership announced the purported deadline in mid-April, and has recently boasted about depriving Moscow of its supposed wish.

Russia will eventually take Chasov Yar anyway, Skibitsky told The Economist. The general added that he does not see a way for Ukraine to win on the battlefield alone, describing the continuing hostilities as an attempt by both sides to gain a stronger position in future peace talks.

Skibitsky believes that no meaningful negotiations will happen before 2025. Moscow has repeatedly said that, unlike Kiev, it is willing to negotiate peace as long as “realities on the ground” are acknowledged.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky intends to promote his “peace formula” – a list of demands to Russia – to neutral nations during an international event in Switzerland in mid-June. Russia has said it will not participate in the process, which it sees as irrelevant, even if invited.

The event organizers “do not intend to seek a road to peace let alone analyze the roots of the Ukraine conflict,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday. The West is seeking to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, rather than an end to the bloodshed, she claimed.