HomeWorldUkraine's military intelligence chief predicts how the war will end

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief predicts how the war will end

Kyiv, Ukraine – As Ukraine announces a plan counteroffensive in the spring, the head of the country’s General Intelligence Directorate, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, predicts that the upcoming battles will be ‘decisive’.

It is not the first prediction made by the general, who has grown professionally in the ranks of military intelligence. He is one of the few members of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inner circle who, a little over a year ago, did not believe that Russia was simply ‘training’ troops assembling along the Ukrainian border, as it falsely claimed. Moscow. Budanov was one of the few who warned President Zelensky that Russia was preparing to launch an invasion.

“I was just trusting the facts,” he says, speaking from the heavily fortified headquarters he now calls office and home, near the Ukrainian capital. “All the information we had, all the data available, pointed to an invasion.”

A year later, as the media speculated about a new Russian offensive that could give President Vladimir Putin a much-needed victory to mark the anniversary of the invasion, Budanov dismissed the notion of a “mythical Russian offensive.”

“The so-called Russian offensive is already underway,” he told The Cipher Brief in mid-February, before some of the most intense recent fighting began. “It is happening on the territory, mainly now, of the Donetsk Oblast and, in principle, there is nothing new about it. It will continue as now. But this differs dramatically from what the media says. People are waiting for some mythical date when a thousand tanks advance and 400 planes advance at 4 in the morning. It won’t be like that.”

If it seems like Budanov is viewing this war through a sensible filter, that’s probably because he is. His headquarters, hidden deep within a fortified island complex, is surrounded by armed guards, concrete blocks and barbed wire fences. In the lobby outside his office, armed guards greet visitors who enter the dimly lit reception room with suspicion. That could be partly due to the many assassination attempts reported against him, something the general is unaware of.

“I’ve been through a number of them,” he says, “so it doesn’t surprise me at all. When people go to work like this, they have to realize that this is basically an inherent part of their future life.”

The day he visited The Cipher Brief, Budanov’s assistant sat behind a large wooden desk near the front office door. Two men, dressed in suits and ties, looked uncomfortably out of place, shifting their weight from one foot to the other, standing almost in shadow. The only light in the room emanated from a large screen television that was playing a Shrek movie at low volume. “Who are the men in suits?” we asked our interpreter. “Probably here trying to sell her something,” he whispered back.

Ukraine is certainly in the market for military technology that can push this war to a quicker end by ensuring a Russian defeat. So far, aid from Western countries has come at a slower pace than is happening on the battlefield. It’s no secret that President Zelensky has used his charisma on the world stage in every imaginable forum to call for more equipment, including tanks and F-16 fighter jets. Budanov says that kyiv also needs artillery systems because there is a lack of artillery guns at the moment. Attack helicopters would also be useful, he tells us.

“Taking into account that we are preparing to recover territories that are being temporarily occupied, we need more capabilities for offensive actions,” he says. “Air defense allows us to provide cover for operations like this.”

Officials in Kiev have also been requesting Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) that are capable of reaching deep into the Crimea, where Iranian drones are routinely launched in support of the Russian invasion (drones detected circling in the capital city in one of the nights). The Cipher Brief was there).

“While we prepare to regain control of the temporarily uncontrolled territories, we need everything possible to carry out an offensive operation,” says Budanov. “We need air defense teams to cover our troops as they advance and to cover important installations in all other parts of Ukraine.”

Budanov also says that alliances with Western intelligence agencies have proven extremely effective in this war, although he says that sometimes his troops need quicker access to satellite imagery because of how fast things move in the world. battle front.

“Cooperation with the military intelligence community and with the United States of America is a top priority for us,” he says. “This may seem a bit surprising, but we don’t just receive intelligence. They also receive data from us. This is actually a royal alliance.”

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Budanov says that intelligence sharing and cooperation have only increased since the start of the war, particularly in the areas of early warning, giving him and his top leaders a much more complete picture of what is happening in the air and in the air. space over Ukraine and parts of Russia. .

“This is very important to us,” he says, “because, let’s say, from the moment the missile is prepared and launched to its actual arrival at the target, a little bit of time passes. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t, and our partners help fill this picture in so we have time to prepare and take action.”

Budanov spoke to The Cipher Brief from his office, where the windows were littered with sandbags. They reach high enough to keep out most of the light, which seems like a comfortable setting for the general.

While he was talking about what his country needed to win this war, two frogs living in a dark corner of the aquarium tried in vain to climb the slippery walls. When the war started, Budanov and his wife made the decision to move into the compound during the war and took the frogs with them because, as he explains, he couldn’t leave them behind.

In front of his massive desk, another large screen hangs on the wall, this one filled with maps and what appears to be satellite images. And in another corner, there is a cage with two birds singing.

“It is a living detector of poisonous substances,” he explains. “These birds are very susceptible. If they detect the slightest concentration of a poisonous substance, they will die immediately.”

At 37, Budanov is one of the country’s youngest and perhaps most eclectic leaders. He seems to pride himself on doing things the old fashioned way. For example, most of the intelligence that crosses his desk comes on a sheet of paper.

“We do this to prevent leaks,” he says. “Everything comes only on paper. Paper reports can only be obtained, let’s say, if you physically obtain them, so interception is almost impossible this way.”

Some of the intelligence reports the general has focused on over the past year have been about the composition of Russia’s fighting force, with much of the intelligence coming from captured Russian troops on the battlefield. Budanov said the recently captured Russian soldiers came from a Russian marine unit, the 155thhe Marine Infantry Brigade. The brigade reportedly suffered devastating losses in the course of a recent three-week offensive on Vuhledar, a mining town along the Ukraine-Russia border that has been demolished by fierce fighting. Media reports described the Russian unit that got lost there as an “elite brigade,” but Budanov says that’s not consistent with his intelligence.

“The vast majority of the people who were taken prisoner during these hostilities are only conditionally Marines,” he says. “Ninety percent of them are crew members who were taken directly from the ships. These are engineers, mechanics, and crew members of conventional warships. But since the Russian Federation has very significant problems with manning and training, they simply lack people. So, they just transferred you to the 155th brigade and told them that from that day on you are now marines and the next day, relatively speaking, you went into battle.”

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While Russia is believed to be sending additional troops to replace those it lost in places like Vuldehar, Budanov doesn’t think Moscow has reserves of well-trained fighters to draw on, which leads him to another prediction.

“I’m sure it will be over in a fairly short time.” he says. “I do not share the opinion that this conflict will last long for one simple reason, Russia realizes that it cannot drag it out for long. With all their actions, they are trying to show that they are ready for a long-term conflict, but in reality it is the exact opposite.

Budanov predicts that the coming months will see decisive battles that will have a significant impact on the end of this war. And his prediction of the ending leads directly to Crimea, the area of ​​Ukraine that was taken by Russian force in 2014, with no real cost imposed by the rest of the world.

“It all started there and it will end there, with the return of Crimea,” he tells The Cipher Brief. “Because in any other case, we will only be putting off the conflict for the future and I don’t think anyone will allow it. What ways and methods will we use to achieve this goal? The answer is that any option that allows us to regain control is acceptable to us. That means strength and diplomacy. The war began not only in the Crimea for me. This is where our whole country and the Russian Federation began as well. And this is where it will end.”

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