Russian governor predicts Ukrainian military to falter by spring or summer of 2024
01/04/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

Yevgeny Balitsky, the governor of Russia's frontline Zaporizhzhia Region, forecasted that by the spring or summer of 2024, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's army would collapse as it will no longer be a credible fighting force.

Balitsky told reporters that he expects "tectonic shifts" in Ukraine to "finish it off from the inside," citing his military experience as well as grapevine signals from the other side as the sources of his insight. "Most likely [the hostilities] will end in late spring or early summer. The Ukrainian army will collapse," he predicted.

In a separate interview with the official Russian Defense Ministry channel Zvezda TV, the governor also identified Kyiv's lack of manpower as the key factor, which he believes will lead to the fall of the Ukrainian army. As per his estimate, Kyiv has roughly one million fighting-age men to draft from. Others have fled the country, while some are too young or too old to be soldiers. Some are already serving in security agencies such as the Border Guard Service or the Security Service of Ukraine (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 said of the beleaguered nation's ongoing military mobilization effort. "The winter will be critical for the Ukrainian army. And the spring will be victorious for us," he added.

Russia's claim of Ukraine's "wearing out" manpower has been confirmed by retired German Air Force Colonel and prominent military analyst Ralph D. Thiele. According to the former personal staffer of the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, around 800 Ukrainian troops are being killed and wounded daily amid the conflict with Russia and because of this Zelensky needs to recruit more than 20,000 soldiers every month to replace its dead and injured.

Also, the decreasing Western support for Kyiv is "eating away at the morale" of the Ukrainian troops, who "will have to save ammunition in a war of attrition and endure slaughter at the front without rest and without a greater sense of achievement," Thiele stressed.

Earlier in the week, 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 Kyiv coerce eligible recruits into returning home. Estonia has already expressed its willingness to assist.

Biden, Western allies to shift Kyiv counteroffensive forces; give up parts of Ukraine to Russia

According to Politico's national editor Michael Hirsh, a President Joe Biden administration official, who was given anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the record, and a Washington-based European diplomat revealed that Biden and other European officials are quietly shifting their focus to improving its position in an eventual negotiation to end the war, with a great possibility of giving up parts of Ukraine to Russia as a result.

The Department of Defense has been open in insisting that it continues to support Ukraine's aim of forcing Russia's military completely out of the country. But key officials from the West are reportedly discussing the redeployment of Kyiv's forces away from Zelensky's "failed counteroffensive." (Related: After squandering $111B on military aid for Ukraine, Biden administration is asking for yet more funds.)

"This effort has also involved bolstering air defense systems and building fortifications, razor wire obstructions and anti-tank obstacles and ditches along Ukraine's northern border with Belarus, these officials say. In addition, the Biden administration is focused on rapidly resurrecting Ukraine's own defense industry to supply the desperately needed weaponry the U.S. Congress is balking at replacing," Hirsh reported.

The said U.S. official also told the media outlet that much of this strategic shift to defense is aimed at shoring up Ukraine's position in any future negotiation. "That's been our theory of the case throughout – the only way this war ends ultimately is through negotiation," said the official. "We want Ukraine to have the strongest hand possible when that comes." However, no talks are planned yet and Ukrainian forces are still on the offensive in places that continue to kill and wound thousands of Russian troops. "We want them to be in a stronger position to hold their territory. It's not that we're discouraging them from launching any new offensive," the spokesperson added.

Bookmark for more stories related to the dragging war between Ukraine and Russia, in which the Western powers are playing a big part.

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