In an interview for Coffee or Die published on March 27, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov said he was not surprised that Russia's aggression against Ukraine had failed and said that Ukraine was receiving a wealth of information about Russia's intentions through intelligence, including Kremlin sources. Ukrainians have managed to penetrate many sectors of Russia's military, political and financial leadership and use the information to their advantage.
One example he offered was the recent strike in Berdyansk that destroyed a Russian Alligator-class landing ship as it sat at a dock. Thanks to its intelligence-gathering capabilities, Ukraine hit at the right moment to cause maximum damage.
“The rocket hit at the some time where the fuel trucks and the ammunition trucks came to the ship,” he said.
Having spies across Russia’s military and political landscape, including in Putin’s administration, has been extremely beneficial to Ukraine, Intel Chief said. Human intelligence has been augmented by Ukraine’s rapidly increasing cyber intelligence capabilities, which provide a deep understanding of Russia's military plans.
Aside from information about the russian military, Ukraine has been able to “see the circulation of russian money very well,” Budanov told the journalist. “We will know where [the money goes], where [it is] accumulated and when they move [it]. We also can see what’s going on in the fuel area of russia. And we also keep track of all the innovations of armaments.”
Top US intelligence officials recently testified before Congress that its intelligence sharing with Ukraine was “revolutionary” and unlike anything in recent memory.
Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier said the intelligence sharing was “revolutionary in terms of what we can do,” according to the Washington Post. Paul Nakasone, director of the NSA, testified that “he had not seen a better sharing of accurate, timely and actionable intelligence in his 35 years of service.”
Answering questions about the prospects of the russian-Ukrainian war, General Budanov expressed cautious optimism: “Just two days into the war, russia realized things weren’t going as well as they hoped”.
“So they made a plan called D-plus 30 and D-plus 60,” he said, explaining those numbers coincided with Russian expectations for how it would be doing one month, and then two months, into the war.
Evaluating the actions of the enemy, Kyrylo Budanov said: “Despite considerable superiority in armaments, despite the complete supremacy in the air, they are suffering considerable losses. Their morale is going down. It’s very low. The military leadership of Russia is seeing their losses, they throw new forces into combat. The commanders don’t have enough time to plan the operation. So they throw their people for destruction and we destroy them.”
“When I talk to many captives, we hear absolutely frank answers,” he said. “They don’t know what is happening and what they are doing here. We cannot call them highly motivated. I would say that’s the main reason for our success.”
But there are other factors. Among them, Budanov said, are those who answered Zelenskyy’s call for foreign fighters, as well as indigenous guerrilla fighters conducting irregular and unconventional war on Russian troops.
To the journalist’s request to give a candid assessment of how long Ukraine can last, given the huge resources still left in Russia, as well as the current level of armament of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in terms of foreign arms, General Budanov replied: “We stand and can stand for a long time. We are ready for this. We will liberate all temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. But we need help. We need serious air and missile defense systems, 155 mm and more artillery systems, and combat aircraft.”
Budanov was particularly keen on so-called “fifth-generation” fighter aircraft.
“We don’t need poorly outdated aircraft of the fourth generation, because our enemy Russia has most of its combat aviation of the fourth generation plus. Our pilots who operate outdated aviation and they managed to hit and destroy the aviation that’s generation four plus plus. Ukrainian pilots are able to master fifth-generation aircraft. I have no doubt in their skills”.
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