Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Chief Predicts How War Will End
Kyiv, Ukraine – When Ukraine announced a plan counterattack In the spring, the head of the country’s Main Intelligence Directorate, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, predicted that the upcoming battles would be ‘decisive’.
That was not the first prediction that the general, who had grown up professionally in the ranks of military intelligence, made. He is one of the few members of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inner circle, who – just over a year ago – does not believe that Russia is simply ‘training’ troops that are massing along the Ukrainian border, like Moscow. made false statements. Budanov was one of the few who warned President Zelensky that Russia was preparing for an invasion.
“I rely solely on facts,” he said, speaking from his heavily fortified headquarters, which he now calls his office and home, near Ukraine’s capital. “All the information we have, all the data available points to an invasion.”
A year later, as the media speculated about a new Russian offensive that could give President Vladimir Putin a much-needed victory to mark the anniversary of the invasion, Budanov dismissed the notion of ‘ Russia’s Mythical Attack’.
“The so-called Russian attack is already underway,” he told The Cipher Brief in mid-February, before some of the more intense fighting recently began. “It is happening on the territory, mainly now, of Donetsk Oblast, and in principle there is nothing new in it. It will continue as it is happening now. But this is completely different from what the media is saying. Everyone is waiting for some mythical day when a thousand tanks will advance and 400 planes will advance at 4 am. It’s not going to happen that way.”
If it seems that Budanov views this war through a meaningless filter, it’s probably because he does. His headquarters are located deep inside a fortified compound on the island, surrounded by armed guards, concrete blocks and a barbed wire fence. In the hallway outside his office, armed guards greeted guests who entered the dimly lit reception room with suspicious eyes. That may be partly due to the numerous assassinations reported against him, which the general ignored.
“I’ve looked through some of them,” he said, “so I’m not surprised at all. When people go to work like this, they should realize that this is basically an inherent part of their future lives.”
On the day The Cipher Brief visited, Budanov’s assistant sat behind a large wooden desk near the front door of the main office. Two men in suits and ties, looking uncomfortably out of place, shifting their weight from foot to foot, standing almost in the dark. The only light in the room came from the large TV screen showing the movie Shrek with the volume turned down. “Who are the men in suits,” we asked the interpreter. “Maybe trying to sell him something here,” he whispered back.
Ukraine is certainly in the market for military technology that can bring this war to an end faster by ensuring the defeat of Russia. So far, aid from Western countries has come at a slower rate than what is happening on the battlefield. It is no secret that President Zelensky has used his prestige on the world stage in every conceivable forum to ask for more equipment, including tanks and F-16 fighter jets. Budanov said Kyiv also needs artillery systems because there is currently a shortage of artillery barrels. He told us that attack helicopters would also be useful.
“Given that we are preparing to regain temporarily occupied territories, we need more capabilities for offensive actions,” he said. “The room does not allow us to provide cover for activities like this.”
Officials in Kyiv have also demanded that the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) be capable of reaching deep into Crimea, where Iranian drones are regularly launched in support of the Russian invasion. drones were spotted flying around the capital city one of the nights the Code Compendium was there).
“As we prepare to regain control of the temporarily unoccupied territories, we need everything we can to launch an offensive operation,” said Budanov. “We need anti-aircraft equipment to protect our troops as they advance and to protect important facilities in all other regions of Ukraine.”
Budanov also says that alliances with Western intelligence agencies have proved extremely effective in this fight, although he sometimes says his troops need faster access to satellite imagery because of the lack of access to satellite imagery. things happen fast on the battlefield.
“Cooperation with the military intelligence community and with the United States of America is a top priority for us,” he said. “This might come as a bit of a surprise, but we don’t just get intelligence. They also receive data from us. This is a real alliance.”
It’s not just for the President anymore. Do you get your daily national security briefing? Subscribers + Members have exclusive access to Open Source Collection Daily Summary keeps you up to date with global events affecting national security. It pays to be a Subscriber + Member.
Budanov said that intelligence sharing and cooperation has only increased since the beginning of the war, especially in the early warning areas, giving him and his senior leaders a picture. a much more comprehensive picture of what is happening in the air and space above Ukraine and parts of Russia.
“This is very important to us,” he said, “because it can be said that, from the moment the missile is prepared and launched until it actually reaches the target, a short period of time will pass. Sometimes we see it, sometimes we don’t and our partners help complete this picture so we have time to prepare and take the necessary actions.”
Budanov speaks to The Cipher Brief from his office, where the windows are piled with sandbags. They reach high enough to keep out most of the light, which seems to be a comfortable environment for everyone.
As he talked about what his country needed to win this war, two frogs kept in an aquarium in a dark corner tried in vain to climb the slippery walls. When the war started, Budanov and his wife decided to move to the estate for the duration of the war and they brought the frogs with them because, as he explained, he couldn’t leave them behind.
Opposite his massive desk, another large screen hung on the wall – this one filled with maps and what appeared to be satellite images. And in another corner, there is a cage with two birds chirping.
“It is a device that directly detects harmful substances,” he explains. “These birds are very susceptible to disease. If they detect the smallest concentration of poison, they will die instantly.”
At 37, Budanov is one of the country’s youngest and perhaps most eclectic leaders. He seems to take pride in doing things the old fashioned way. For example, most of the intelligence that passed through his desk was on a piece of paper.
“We do this to avoid leaks,” he said. “Everything just comes in paper form. Paper reports can only be obtained, so to speak, if you actually get them, so this way blocking is almost impossible.”
Some of the intelligence reports the general has focused on over the past year have been on the composition of Russia’s combat forces, with much of the intelligence coming from Russian troops captured on the battlefield. Budanov said the recently captured Russian soldiers were from the Russian Marine Corps, unit 155lame pants Navy Engineer Brigade. The brigade is said to have suffered heavy losses during the recent three-week offensive in Vuhledar, a mining town along the Ukraine-Russia border that was destroyed by fierce fighting. Media reports described the Russian unit lost there as an “elite brigade”, but Budanov said that did not match his intelligence.
“Most of the people who were taken prisoner in these wars were just conditional marines,” he said. “90% of them are crew members brought directly from the ship. These are the engineers, mechanics and crew of ordinary warships. But since the Russian Federation has very serious personnel and training problems, their shortage of people is quite simple. So they were simply transferred to the 155th brigade and were told that from today on, you are marines, and the next day, relatively speaking, they go to war.”
Subscribers + Members can access Wagner Corporation’s Path to Infamy Exclusively in The Cipher Brief
While Russia is said to be sending more troops to replace those lost in places like Vuldehar, Budanov doesn’t believe Moscow has a stockpile of well-trained fighters, prompting him to offer a other predictions.
“I’m sure it will be over in a pretty short time.” he says. “I do not share the view that this conflict will last for the simple reason that Russia realizes that it cannot prolong it. With all their actions, they are trying to show that they are ready for a lasting conflict, but in reality it is quite the opposite.”
Budanov predicts that the coming months will see decisive battles that will significantly impact how this war ends. And his prediction of the end leads immediately to Crimea, the region of Ukraine that was captured by Russian forces in 2014, without the real cost of it to the rest of the world.
“It all started there, and will end there, with the return of Crimea,” he told The Cipher Brief. “Because in any other case we will only delay future conflict and I don’t think anyone will allow this. What forms and methods will we use to achieve this goal? The answer is that any option that allows us to regain control is acceptable to us. That means force and diplomacy. For me, the war didn’t just start in Crimea. This is where it begins for both our country and the Russian Federation. And this is where it will end.”
Follow Cipher Brief Publisher & CEO Suzanne Kelly on LinkedIn And Twitter for 30 images in 30 days: behind-the-scenes photos from The Cipher Brief’s report in Ukraine
Read more expert-driven national security insights, perspectives, and analysis in Code summary