Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian Military Intelligence (HUR), spoke CNN in an exclusive interview. Despite public concerns about the exhaustion of Ukrainian troops, Russia’s superiority in domestic military production, and no clear and foreseen game-end he continued to voice his usual confidence in a full victory for Ukraine over Russia.
“The establishment of justice – this is how it will end,” he said, adding: “The next six months will be interesting, with that period seeing the end of Russia’s ongoing push along the frontlines.”
Attacks on Russian infrastructure may grow
In an interview with CNN, Ukraine’s intelligence chief mentioned that Kyiv’s military forces are intending to escalate the frequency of strikes on Russian infrastructure.
When questioned about Ukraine’s role in past drone attacks on Russia, he neither confirmed nor denied involvement, stating that such operations were “quite possible.”
“Hypothetically, there is a plan according to which all this happens,” he said. “And I believe that this plan includes all the major critical infrastructure facilities and military infrastructure facilities of the Russian Federation.”
Budanov also said that Russian civilians would finally see “the full picture of war.”
“They see burning oil depots, destroyed buildings in factories and plants, and so on. This is all beneficial,” he elaborated.
“We really need this aid”
With Russia relentlessly attacking Ukraine, whose troops are running low on ammunition, the Ukrainian spy-chief is focused on getting more help from the West.
“We really need this aid,” Budanov told CNN.
The top priority is getting more artillery systems, with howitzers – no matter how old or what kind – at the top of the list, as years of fighting have taken a toll on Ukraine’s long-range guns.
Amid Ukraine’s struggle to match Russia’s firepower, especially since Moscow asked North Korea for more ammunition, Budanov insisted on the importance of ordnance.
“Shells are one of the most decisive factors in this war” Budanov said. “Not so much the quality as the quantity.”
“In unmanned systems we are more or less equal”
In the skies above the frontlines, Ukraine is maintaining a strong presence, the spy chief noted.
“It is precisely in unmanned systems that we are more or less equal,” Budanov said.
Ukrainian social media is abuzz with videos from frontline troops depicting drones observing, attacking, and even capturing Russian forces, despite Moscow employing similar tactics.
At the same time, even though Kyiv’s longstanding aspirations for F-16 fighter jets have finally materialized, with Ukrainian pilots already undergoing training on the aircraft, Budanov has voiced the country’s latest request: ground-attack aircraft like the American A-10, often referred to as the “Warthog.”
“This is what can really help inflict a military defeat” on Russia, he said of the aging aircraft.
Trump as a game-changer?
Budanov said he “doesn't worry much about” Donald Trump’s potential comeback, not even in light of the former president’s praise of Putin and congressional Republicans’ freezing aid to Ukraine at Trump’s urging.
“Trump is an experienced person. He has fallen many times and gotten back up again. And this is a very serious trait,” Budanov said. The spy chief appeared to disregard Trump’s often stated intention to cut US support for Ukraine in order to pressure Kyiv into making territorial concessions.
“We are expecting a positive decision anyway,” Budanov said of the US debate over aid. “To say that Trump and the Republican Party are lovers of the Russian Federation is complete nonsense.”
Russia failed to back up its claims about Ukrainian POWs on the downed Il-76
Ukraine’s intel chief said Russia has not provided sufficient evidence to support its claims that there were Ukrainian prisoners of war on the Il-76 plane that was shot down over the Belgorod region.
“If everything is as they say, then the first thing they should have done was to show a gruesome picture. Let’s say, the field covered with corpses. And show it to the whole world,” he said.
According to CNN research, footage from Russian state media of the crash site only showed a small number of bodies around the wreckage.
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