The wife of imprisoned pro-Russian militia leader Igor “Strelkov” Girkin has made a hand-written letter sent by him from prison, public. In it he rages against the “deteriorating” battlefield performance of the Russian military in Ukraine and voiced concern that heavy losses would severely reduce Russian capabilities by early 2024.

In the letter, Girkin described what he saw as the inability of Russian troops to successfully conduct limited offensives citing their failed advances on the Kupyansk, Lyman and Avdiivka axes.

Avdiivka, in particular, demonstrated Russia’s inability to achieve superiority “even on a very narrow of the front” despite an abundance of ammunition that was “unheard of since the assault on Bakhmut,” according to Girkin.

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Russia’s recent assaults on Avdiivka have brought minimal gains despite suffering all-time-high levels of losses that surpassed even those suffered in the fighting around Bakhmut, as reported in an earlier Kyiv Post report.

According to Girkin, the lack of progress and a move towards mobilization in Russia would allow Ukraine to replenish its troops and equipment, and even if Ukraine was unable to break through Russian defenses, it could still induce heavy losses on Moscow’s troops.

He believed the “maximum prolongation of the war” would ultimately lead to Russia’s “final defeat” in a broader conflict with the West given the inability of either Ukraine or Russia to achieve meaningful breakthroughs.

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Girkin also discussed his concerns for NATO’s increased supplies to Ukraine, namely modern aviation and missiles that could induce damage against “the most painful points” of Russia’s military and civilian infrastructure, as demonstrated by Ukraine’s recent strike on the Berdyansk airfield.

Girkin added that the Kherson (Dnipro) front appears to be “the most dangerous direction” for him, citing the establishing of Ukrainian bridgeheads covered by artillery fire that could threaten the occupied Crimean Peninsula.

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Lastly, he described Russia’s retreat from Kherson earlier this year as a mistake that “borders on betrayal,” and that the Kremlin’s stated aim to mobilize hundreds of thousands of military contract personnel remains a “dream.”

Girkin, a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who played a significant role in Crimea’s annexation and the war in Donbas, was imprisoned by Russian authorities on extremism charges in July 2023.

A hardline nationalist, Girkin has been critical of the lack of progress in Russia’s ongoing invasion, often calling for more extreme measures against Ukraine. He was also found guilty by The Hague District Court for the July 2014 downing of Malaysian flight MH17 near Donetsk.

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