Kyrylo Budanov gave an exclusive interview to The War Zone during a trip to the USA

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Lieutenant General and head of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Kyrylo Budanov gave a great deal interview The War Zone, which tells about the current counteroffensive, the specifics of combat tactics, attacks on the territory of Russia and occupied Crimea, and the possible disconnection of StarLink coverage by Elon Musk.

When I first met Kyryll Budanov in November 2021, he was a young brigadier general who was almost unknown outside of Ukraine. But in his country, he was already a hero of special operations and wounded three times, fighting with the Russian army since 2014. Then, sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Washington, he told how Russia was going to attack Ukraine. His prediction, which included a map of a possible offensive, proved prophetic just three months later.

Currently, Budanov is the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (MUD), one of the most famous active generals in the world and the architect of permanent asymmetric operations against the enemy of his Motherland, Russia.

This is how American journalist Howard Altman begins his interview with Budanov for The War Zone. Here are the 15 main thoughts of the head of the GUR from this conversation.

About the current counteroffensive. The counteroffensive operation of the Armed Forces continues. Since the middle of August, there has been a certain activation of the Crimea occupied by the Russian Federation. We are attacking military facilities and infrastructure of the Russian army.

The offensive operation in southern Ukraine will continue as long as we have the resources. In parallel with this, the operations to de-occupy Bakhmut are underway. We recently returned Klishchiivka. This is important, the village is located on a hill that overlooks another area.

The next step is to block all supply routes for the Russian army that go to Bakhmut. We will try to cover the city, and only after that we will enter it. The purpose of the operation is to restrain the Russian forces and prevent them from strengthening the Berdyan and Melitopol directions. This brought results: the Russians recently redeployed their only reserve, the 25th Army (about 15,000 soldiers), to the north of Bakhmut. The ZSU plans to bury them there.

The actions of the Russians in Kupyansk are local, they cannot be called a campaign or an offensive operation. They achieved some success a few months ago, after which the Armed Forces stopped them on certain lines of defense. Nothing has happened since then.

The 10th Edelweiss Mountain Assault Brigade fires from Soviet D-30 artillery in the Bakhmut district of the Donetsk region on September 16, 2023.
The 10th Edelweiss Mountain Assault Brigade fires from Soviet D-30 artillery in the Bakhmut district of the Donetsk region on September 16, 2023.

About battle tactics. The current hostilities are conducted on foot without the use of any equipment. The reason is the saturation of artillery systems and anti-tank means on the front line. Anti-tank mines are a big problem for tracked vehicles. [Броньованих] systems are not enough to create a powerful breakthrough in the enemy’s defenses, as in the classical doctrine.

A new feature of combat is the large number of FPV suicide drones on both sides, capable of hitting almost any equipment.

All this minimizes the possibility of using armored vehicles in almost all the main directions of the front.

The Russian Federation has much more human resources, we cannot continue to fight soldier against soldier. This will not give the desired results. We need more artillery and long-range systems to attack the command posts and logistics depots of the Russian army.

Taking into account the past winter, both we and the Russians have become convinced that fighting in winter is not a problem. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s not difficult either.

About the losses of soldiers of the Armed Forces. I do not have the exact figures of our losses. It is quite logical that they increased with the counterattack. But there is an interesting feature: despite our counteroffensive, the number of losses of the Armed Forces is still lower than that of the defending enemy.

About Russian air defense. If we talk about attacks on enemy air defense systems, everything is more complicated here. First, air defense systems are very expensive equipment and take a long time to manufacture. All air defense systems of the Russian army were deployed at the front, as well as for the defense of Moscow.

We thin out the general coverage of enemy air defense. Such “holes” are then used for other purposes. In addition, we are depleting the reserves of anti-aircraft missiles of the Russian army, they are not unlimited.

From a political point of view, we demonstrate the inability of the Russian air defense systems to perform their function well. This makes them less profitable in the world arms markets.

The S-400
The S-400 “Triumph” anti-aircraft missile complex is the latest Russian air defense/promotion system. On August 23, the Armed Forces destroyed one of these systems. Photo by Getty Images

About drone attacks on Moscow and the military infrastructure of the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian side has never officially confirmed this [атаки на Москву] (Budanov laughs), I will remain in this position. There are additional factors here that are not present when we discuss the attacks in Crimea.

The first is that the whole world sees that despite Russian air defense systems, some UAVs still attack Moscow, and no one wants to buy them. The second is the social side. The population of the Russian Federation and especially large Russian business, in addition to the financial side, are beginning to feel the impact of the war. Before that, she only appeared on TV screens for them.

The third is that it undermines the faith of the Russian population in the all-powerful Russian regime. They begin to ask logical questions, such as: “Where is our air defense, which is supposed to protect us?”. But to blame the authorities for stealing all the money.

The next aspect is strikes on the critical military infrastructure of the Russian Federation: oil refineries that supply fuel for the Russian army, factories that produce components for military equipment.

Damaged facade of the building in the Moscow-City business center as a result of a drone attack, July 30.  /Getty Images
Damaged facade of the building in the Moscow-City business center as a result of a drone attack, July 30. Photo by Getty Images

About attack to the Chkalovsky airfield in the Moscow region. It was an operation by sabotage groups. They are related to us in a certain way. We help them. This operation demonstrates the inability of the Russian regime to protect even its most important infrastructure. We are aware of a very negative reaction to this in the Russian Federation. The FSB was at fault. This is a blow to the political and military leadership of Russia.

About the attacks on the Kerch Bridge and Putin’s possible reaction. The question is not whether we will attack the bridge or not. We do it regularly. It’s a matter of time. Putin will be upset again. What can he do?

The Crimean bridge after another attack by the Armed Forces.  /Getty Images
The Crimean bridge after another attack by the Armed Forces. Photo by Getty Images

About the weapons used by the Armed Forces to attack the fleet of the Russian Navy. We use everything we have, Ukrainian-made drones. “Neptune” missile complexes are in the process of development, they are being improved. But the problem is that we don’t have the capacity to produce a lot of them. The problem is the number of those that are.

About 31 Abrams tanks, which are transferred to Ukraine.We look forward to seeing them. We haven’t seen them yet. They should be used in very specific, well-designed breakout operations. If they are used on the front line and simply in a combined military battle, they will not serve the Armed Forces for very long.

What are ATACMS missiles for?If they give us 100 such missiles, it will not change the situation. Most command posts and material and technical warehouses of the Russian army are located at a distance of more than 85 km, and this is the maximum range of damage of our available ammunition.

Currently, we have nothing to reach them. And the same situation with Russian aviation at airfields in the occupied territories of Ukraine. It is very expensive and inefficient to fight Russian aviation with air defense means.

About the position of Minister of Defense. not disappointed [що не призначили міністром оборони]. I love my current job.

About studying political science and political ambitions at the Ostroh Academy. I am writing my doctorate there on the topic of interaction between special services around the world. I have two years to do it.

About the possible assassination of the founder of the “Wagner” PMK Yevgeny Prigozhin. I would not rush to say that he was killed. I have no confirmation. [Підтверджень, що він мертвий] we don’t have

About Elon Musk and the shutdown of StarLink in Crimea.[StarLink] – private property. We use its products and services very extensively. Otherwise it would be a disaster. It’s true, he used to turn off coverage of Crimea. But not at the specific moment that everyone is discussing. This disconnection was for a month. Maybe there were some other specific cases that I don’t know about.

About the support of the USA and victory. Ukraine will be eternally grateful for all the help provided by the USA. A victory over the Russian Federation will be as much a victory for America as for Ukraine. This will be our joint victory.

[Перемога] close. But at the moment it is difficult to predict when. There are many factors. No one can say for sure how long it will last.

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