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14 May, 2024 09:03

Frontline situation ‘on the edge’ – Ukrainian intel chief

Russia may launch another incursion in the northern part of the country this week, Kirill Budanov has told the NYT
Frontline situation ‘on the edge’ – Ukrainian intel chief

Ukraine’s precarious battlefield position is set to worsen in the near future, Kiev’s military intelligence chief has warned in an interview with the New York Times. Kirill Budanov described the situation as “on the edge” as Russia continues to make territorial gains.

Moscow has seized multiple villages in the northern part of Ukraine’s Kharkov Region after launching an offensive last Friday. The area has been used by Kiev for months to launch cross-border attacks into Russia’s Belgorod Region.

Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (GUR), told the New York Times that the apparent intention of the maneuver was to stretch Ukrainian reserves thin. This could potentially open a window for Russia to capture Chasov Yar, a strategically important Donbass city around 200km southeast of Kharkov.

“The situation is on the edge,” he told the outlet on Monday. “Every hour this situation moves toward critical.”

Budanov believes that Kiev will be able to stabilize the situation, but that Russia’s next move will be a similar incursion in Sumy Region, 150km to the northwest of Kharkov. He expects this to happen within days.

The Ukrainian military leadership has acknowledged “tactical successes” for Russia in the area and reports that it has deployed reserves in response. Budanov told the NYT that Kiev partially disrupted Moscow’s plans thanks to this, but the outlet noted that Kiev may weaken its defenses in other places with the redeployment.

The Russian operation has long been expected in Ukraine, but according to some military officials, Kiev failed to prepare defenses on its side of the border, possibly due to graft.

“The first line of fortifications and mines just didn’t exist,” Denis Yaroslavsky, a Ukrainian commander active in the area, wrote on social media. “We came to the conclusion that this was either deliberate theft or deliberate sabotage.”

Amid the battlefield uncertainty, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Kiev on Tuesday with what US officials called a “signal of reassurance.” Washington is expected to announce further supplies of arms to Ukraine soon.

The Ukrainian leadership has blamed a shortage of Western military assistance and the months-long delay in the appropriation of over $61 billion of Ukraine-related spending by the US Congress for a string of frontline setbacks since last year.

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a US-initiated proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainian soldiers serve as “cannon fodder.” The Defense Ministry has estimated Kiev’s military casualties at over 111,000 this year alone, as of early May.