Ukraine tipped to be planning attack on key region which would swiftly end war

Ukraine: Russian soldier surrenders to drone in Bakhmut

The war in Ukraine will be br brought to a swift end if Ukraine can re-capture Crimea, a military expert said.

Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, a retired US Army officer who served as commanding general with the US Army in Europe, believes the Russian military would rapidly lose “enthusiasm” if the Crimean Peninsula returned to Ukrainian hands after its occupation nine years ago.

Asked during an interview with the European Resilience Initiative Center how could Ukraine liberate its territories with the smallest-possible number of losses and in the swiftests time, Lt Gen Hodges said: “Isolate Crimea and make it untenable for Russian forces. Crimea is the decisive terrain.

“From a strategic standpoint, Bakhmut was important only because the Russians were willing to spend a lot of lives there.

“Obviously it is important because there were 17,000 people that used to live there and it’s Ukrainian sovereign territory, but from a cold, strategic stance, Crimea is what it’s decisive.

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“If Ukraine is able to liberate Crimea, than this whole thing is over.”

The military expert believes that, to liberate the peninsula, Kyiv should begin by isolating it.

He said: “I think one of the objectives of the counter-offensive is to cut the so-called land bridge that runs from Rostov all the way down to Mariupol.”

Ukraine should then use the long-range systems given by Western countries – such as the US’ HIMARS and the UK’s Storm Shadow missiles – to reach sensitive targets inside Crimea and “make it

“Bring up more HIMARS and other systems that can reach targets inside Crimea and make it untenable”.

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He added: “Than at some point you are in a position where you can actually enter the peninsula, and I think this could all happen very fast if the US were to provide more long-range systems.

“In the absence of that, it’s going to take more time, but there is no doubt in my mind Ukraine has the ability to liberate Crimea and I think that’s what they will do.

“After that, I don’t think there will be much enthusiasm on the Russian side for continuing to hang on the Donetsk or Luhansk or any of the other occupied territories.”

This comes weeks after Kyiv officially launched its much-anticipated counter-offensive.

On Monday, Hanna Maliar – Ukraine’s deputy minister of Defence, announced her country’s troops had taken control of a village in the eastern Donetsk region, in a sign the soldiers continue their advance.

The village, Rivnopil, is located at the junction of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia.

An earlier statement from the official claimed Kyiv’s forces had liberated some 130 square kilometres in the south since the beginning of the offensive operations.

Following the chaos created by the uprising of Wagner troops on Saturday, Ukrainian officials and soldiers were reportedly aiming to “maximise” Russia’s weakness and push forward with their efforts.

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