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Budanov: Russia lacks strength to fully capture Luhansk, Donetsk oblasts in 2024

by Martin Fornusek February 21, 2024 11:50 AM 2 min read
Chief of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov during a presentation of a commemorative coin dedicated to Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine in Kyiv on Sept. 5, 2023. (Viktor Kovalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Russia "doesn't have the strength" to conquer the two eastern Ukrainian oblasts this year, Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Feb. 21.

After the loss of Avdiivka, a front-line city in Donetsk Oblast that has resisted Russian attacks since 2014, there are growing concerns that Russia is gaining the upper hand in the war.

Russian forces are reportedly trying to push forward in five directions: Avdiivka, Marinka, Kreminna, and Bakhmut in the east, as well as Roboytne in the south. According to Budanov, Russia has around 510,000 military personnel in and around Ukraine and has been able to recruit 30,000 troops monthly.

Budanov noted that despite recent successes, the Russian military also faces problems. With its professional army largely destroyed in the first year of the full-scale war, Moscow resorts to using waves of untrained conscripts, he said.

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The Russian defense industry also cannot produce as many shells as their military uses up, and most of the tanks that Russia fields are older models, Budanov commented.

"They (Russia) don't have the strength" to achieve the strategic goal of capturing Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts in their entirety this year, he noted.

Both regions have been partially occupied by Russia since 2014. Moscow declared control over the entire Luhansk Oblast in July 2022 after capturing Lysychansk, but a subsequent counteroffensive re-established a Ukrainian presence in the western reaches of the region.

An optimal scenario for Ukraine this year would be to go on the defensive and wear down Russian forces while building up its own strength, opening up a possibility for another counteroffensive in 2025, the Wall Street Journal writes.

A key condition for this strategy would be continued U.S. assistance, which is far from certain as a foreign aid bill that includes $60 billion for Kyiv remains stuck in Congress.

Ukrainian soldiers recall retreat from Avdiivka – on foot, leaving their wounded behind
Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Independent does not disclose the soldiers’ full names since they were not authorized to speak with the press. DONETSK OBLAST – As Russian forces closed in on a Ukrainian pocket southeast of Avdiivka, infantryman Oleh heard the order clearly: “There will be no evacuation. Le…
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