Ukraine has debunked the myth of Russia's military prowess and proven it is nothing but a "soap bubble," Ukraine's Military Intelligence (HUR) Chief said in an interview with The Financial Times.

Speaking to journalists, Kyrylo Budanov, highlighted significant weaknesses in Russia's military operations, particularly that Russia is enduring substantial casualties, losing as many or more soldiers than it can recruit.

At the same time, he said that Moscow is exceeding its production capacity in weapons and ammunition, forcing it to seek external suppliers.

"They [external suppliers] did hand over a significant amount of artillery rounds. This allowed Russia to catch some breath. Without that help, the situation [for the Russian Federation] would be catastrophic," Budanov said.

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Quality control of weapons has also become a challenge for Moscow, the Intel chief said. He added that the need to import munitions is a challenge for Russia as it would prefer not to rely on foreign aid in the ongoing war.

“They have always considered this to be something beyond their dignity; this is humiliating for them," the head of defense intelligence explained.

Addressing personnel replenishment, Budanov revealed that Russia not only relies on military drafts but also employs mercenaries from private military companies.

Despite rumors of the Wagner Group's demise, Budanov denied it, emphasizing the lack of conclusive evidence about the fate of the group's founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is formally believed to have died in a plane crash.

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"I'm not saying he's not dead or that he's dead. I say that there is no proof of his death," clarified Budanov.Budanov refrained from assessing Ukraine’s current military operations, leaving that to the army's leaders.

"To say that everything is fine is not true,” Budanov said when asked about Ukraine’s much-vaunted counteroffensive which failed to achieve its objectives last year. “[However] to say that there is a catastrophe is also not true.”

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But he did say that it would be unrealistic not to look at mobilizing more people. He echoed the call from top military officials who want more recruits, describing the shortage [of manpower] as “palpable.”

Wrapping up the interview, Budanov refrained from making predictions for how the war would play out in 2024, but expressed restrained optimism.

Earlier, he stated that Ukraine would persist in targeting Russia’s logistical infrastructure in occupied Crimea, as reported by Ukrinform.

Budanov, a 37-year-old former commando, whose exploits are the stuff of legend, skyrocketed through the ranks of Ukraine’s military intelligence to become a general at the age of 35.

He claims to have been the target of no less than 10 Russian assassination attempts, one of which, a car explosion, left him seriously injured.

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