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Ukraine’s spy chief says attacks on Russian-occupied Crimea will escalate in 2024

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Ukraine’s top spy chief promised more intense offensives on Russian-occupied territory in Crimea soon, claiming that the Russian military has proved weaker than expected.

Kyrylo Budanov, who serves as chief of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, said that 2024 will see much greater efforts to reclaim territory in Crimea.

‘In 2023, the first Ukrainian incursions took place in temporarily occupied Crimea,’ Budanov said in an interview with French outlet Le Monde. ‘And this is just the beginning.’

Budanov acknowledged the two countries’ mutual inability to make substantive land gains as both are dug into trenches on the front lines.

‘The very intensive use of attack drones has made both Russian and Ukrainian offensives impossible,’ he said of the territorial stalemate, adding that ‘another factor has been the density of minefields, unprecedented since World War II.’

The spy chief also took a swipe at the Russian military’s strength, saying that the continued struggle of the Ukrainian defending forces has shown the Russian Armed Forces to be less effective than previously believed.

‘A certain Russian paradox surprised me. Everyone thought that Moscow had a strong army and a weak economy. It turns out that the opposite is true,’ Budanov said.

He continued, ‘The economy may be weak, but the country is not starving, far from it. It could even last quite a long time at this rate.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will not consider a cease-fire with Russia, claiming it would only help the invading military bolster its power. 

Zelenskyy made the comments during a visit to Estonia meant to raise support for continued funding of the war effort. 

‘A pause on the Ukrainian battlefield will not mean a pause in the war,’ Zelenskyy said.

‘A pause would play into [Russia’s] hands,’ he added. ‘It might crush us afterward.’

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