KYIV (Reuters) – Russia is using its reserve forces in a covert mobilisation to replenish its ranks in eastern Ukraine and there is no point in simply waiting for its offensive potential to fizzle out, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said on Saturday.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defence Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence, told Reuters in an interview in Kyiv that he believed Ukraine could only achieve a victory against Russia through military force.
“The strategy is very simple. Stabilise the situation. Receive the required amount of equipment and prepare the required amount of forces and means to start the counteroffensive to return all our territory,” he said.
“We shouldn’t wait for a miracle that they will tire and stop wanting to fight and so on. We will win back our territory as a result of our counteroffensive,” he said.
He said that 330,000 personnel were involved in Russia’s operations in Ukraine, a third of its entire armed forces, a figure he added also included non-combat personnel such as logistics staff.
“The main part of this number is the combat element and that is more than 50% of what Russia has at the moment,” he said.
He said was calm about the possibility of Russia eventually openly announcing a mobilisation as it would mean President Vladimir Putin having to face awkward questions at home.
“They really fear this – this is the main reason why the mobilisation is happening in a hidden way, particular by using (reservists),” he said.
“The military units that took part on Feb. 24 and those same military units now are in most cases on their second and in some cases even their third group of personnel,” he said. “These are not the well-trained people who were prepared for many years.”
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by David Clarke)