Ukrainian forces could be back in Crimea by the end of December and the entire war with Russia will end in the spring, a Ukrainian deputy defense minister has predicted.
Volodymyr Havrylov, a retired major general, said his country would never stop fighting until victory and even counted the potential of a Russian nuclear strike.
The minister said in an interview with Sky News that he believed in the likelihood of a nuclear attack Russia to be minor, but said: “Yes, it would be a drama.
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“For everyone it’s just going to be – god knows what scenario – but it will be [a tactical nuclear strike] is not [a] Threat that will prevent us from… continuing our war.”
Referring to the prospect of peace talks with the Kremlin, Mr Havrylov said they would not take place until Russian troops were ready to leave every inch Ukraineincluding the Crimean peninsula President Vladimir Putin seized in 2014 and parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists for eight years.
“There is a decision within society in Ukraine that we go to the end,” he said in London this week during a trip to the UK.
“It doesn’t matter what scenario is on the table.
“People have paid a lot of blood and effort for what we have already achieved.
“And everyone knows that any delay or frozen conflict is just the continuation of this war against the existence of Ukraine as a nation.”
Ukrainian troops, backed by Western arms, scored an enormously significant victory earlier this month the recapture of the southern city of Chersonwhich forces the Russian troops to withdraw to the east side of the Dnipro River.
It was the only regional capital captured by Russia.
Asked if success makes other goals like retaking Crimea seem more likely, Mr. Havrylov said: “It’s just a matter of time and obviously we’d like to achieve it sooner or later.”
He said this could be aided by the so-called “black swan” event – something unpredictable – in Russia, such as the sudden collapse of the Putin regime.
“I think Russia can face a black swan in its country, inside Russia, and contribute to our success in Crimea,” the minister said in fluent English.
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There is “also a military option with some kind of combination of forces, resources and something else”.
“For example, we can intervene in Crimea until the end of December. Possible, possible. Not excluded that it is,” he added.
Mr. Havrylov believed that despite the harsh conditions of freezing temperatures and exhaustion, Ukrainian troops would continue to fight through the winter and capitalize on their momentum.
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He said they had no choice because any disruption in operations would give the Russian side a greater chance to replenish supplies and bring in reinforcements.
“They’re interested in just taking a break in this war, to regroup, to bring more people out of the motherland… that’s the dream.
“Therefore… we have no right to stop. We have to move forward,” he said.
Referring to the end of the war, Mr. Havrylov said that when Russia was able to reinforce itself, it was important as a military man to be prepared for a long fight.
“Of course, in this case, the war will last some time. But I have a feeling that this war will be over by the end of the spring.”