Retired US General Ben Hodges predicts that the Ukrainian military will liberate Crimea and all other Russian-held territories by mid-2023.
Hodges, the former commanding general of the United States Army Europe from 2014 to 2017, told Lithuanian media outlet LRT that he has “great confidence” in Ukraine’s armed forces.
“I hope that by the end of this year, Ukrainian forces will push Russian forces to the February 23 positions,” Hodges told LRT, “and that Ukrainians will be in Crimea by the middle of next year.”
In July, he expressed a similar sentiment, saying that the Russians “can’t do much at the moment” due to Ukrainian military morale and a proliferation of weapons provided by allied nations.
Since then, Russia has recruited about 300,000 reservists to join the fight against Ukraine – many of whom have fled the country or attempted to flee to avoid mobilization.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas is among those who see Russian martial law as a possible next step.
Just over a week ago, Hodges said Ukraine’s retaking of its own territories had provided a military impetus and created a general sense of hope around the world that Ukraine could actually defeat Russia.
One of the consequences of the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive is how the global perception of Crimea will change.
Hodges previously stated that the current conflict will lead to a possible “breakup” of Russia “as it stands today”. He cited a “corrupt” and ineffective Russian military, economic turmoil in the energy and defense sectors, and a shrinking population.
“We have reached the point of irreversible momentum for Ukraine,” Hodges said Kyiv independent last week in Germany. “They don’t want to fight, they’re exhausted and their logistics are exhausted.”
Vadym Skibitsky, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, said Wednesday that a series of explosions in Crimea prompted Russia to withdraw Black Sea Fleet planes and troops from the occupied peninsula.
The Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine remain a focus of the counteroffensive. Referendums were concluded in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as in Zaporizhia and Kherson.
The reported results showed 99.23 percent for Donetsk and 98.42 percent for Luhansk – two regions partially under pro-Moscow separatist control since 2014 – and 93.11 percent for Zaporizhia and 87.05 percent for Kherson.
The referendums were rejected by Ukrainian officials in what the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called it a “propaganda show”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called them “sham referendums and annexations,” adding that President Joe Biden’s administration “will impose additional heavy and expeditious costs on Russia” to proceed with them.
news week turned to the foreign ministries of Ukraine and Russia for comments.
https://www.newsweek.com/retired-us-general-predicts-ukraine-will-take-back-crimea-mid-2023-1747222 The retired US general predicts that Ukraine will retake Crimea by mid-2023