Ukraine could win war by year-end, says Kyiv intel chief

This video grab taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry on March 7, 2022 shows a purported Russian tank unit advancement in the Kyiv region. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • The Ukraine intelligence chief also made unverified claims that a coup was already under way in Moscow to depose President Vladimir Putin, and that the Russian leader was "very sick" with cancer.
  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto Saturday that Finland scrapping its military neutrality would be a "mistake", the Kremlin said.

The war in Ukraine could reach a "breaking point" by August and end in defeat for Russia before the end of the year, Kyiv's head of military intelligence told the UK's Sky News on Saturday.

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, 36, told the news network that he was "optimistic" about the current trajectory of the conflict.

"The breaking point will be in the second part of August," he said.

"Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.

"As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost including Donbas and the Crimea," he said.

Intense fighting is currently raging in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, where Russia has recently been concentrating its forces without making significant progress.

Budanov said that Ukraine knows "everything about our enemy. We know about their plans almost as they're being made."

Russia has so far been able to claim complete control of only one major city, Kherson, and the military offensive that many experts predicted would be lightning fast has been marked by setbacks, especially logistical. 

The Ukraine intelligence chief also made unverified claims that a coup was already under way in Moscow to depose President Vladimir Putin, and that the Russian leader was "very sick" with cancer.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in April that reports Putin had cancer were "an invention and a lie." 

Putin sees any end of Finnish military neutrality as 'mistake'

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto Saturday that Finland scrapping its military neutrality would be a "mistake", the Kremlin said.

"Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland's security," the Kremlin said in a statement after a phone call between the two leaders.

Helsinki is expected to announce its NATO membership bid on Sunday.

"Such a change in the country's political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between partners," the statement added.

Both leaders also touched on the situation in Ukraine, where Russia has been leading a military operation since February 24.

Putin informed his counterpart on the status of Russian-Ukrainian talks, which he said had been "near suspended by Kyiv, which expresses no interest in constructive and serious dialogue", the Kremlin added.

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