Exclusive: Ukraine's top military spy says captured American fighters could be released in prisoner swap

Exclusive: Ukraine's top military spy says captured American fighters could be released in prisoner swap

Jun 25, 2022 2 mins, 28 secs

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine has a network of spies inside the Kremlin, its military will soon score "obvious" victories in its unprovoked war with Russia, and two American volunteer fighters for Ukraine captured by Russia's military will likely be released within "a few months" in a prisoner swap, Ukraine's top military intelligence official said in an exclusive USA TODAY interview.

He also predicted in the interview that if Ukraine's military continues to receive substantial military aid from its allies, then by mid-August it will start scoring decisive "wins" in its four-month-old war with Russia that "will be obvious for the world community." His prediction came as Russian forces overwhelmed more villages in eastern Ukraine amid a slow but systematic advancement through the industrial heart of Ukraine.

On the two American volunteers fighting for Ukraine who were captured by Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk, and who the Kremlin says could face the death penalty: "We are working on it," Budanov said.

officials had been in touch with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities about Americans who may have been captured while fighting in Ukraine.

Budanov said that based on "human intelligence" information that Ukraine's operatives have collected from inside the Kremlin, it appears Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering from several "grave" illnesses and "doesn't have a long life ahead of him." Budanov said his office believes Putin will die from these illnesses within two years. .

Budanov declined in the interview to elaborate on what Ukraine's forecasted "wins" would look like, saying only that Ukraine is working to restore its "territorial integrity step-by-step." He acknowledged future victories are dependent on military aid from Western partners.

In an interview with USA TODAY last November, Budanov predicted that Russia in late 2021 would gradually escalate a series of false-flag provocations as a pretext to launch an invasion, sparking an energy crisis, economic turmoil and food insecurity in countries that rely on Ukraine's exports

For the last few months, Moscow has pivoted its military attacks to Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region, where Russian-backed separatists held large swaths of Ukraine's territory before the invasion

Russian forces have continued to bombard key Ukrainian locations with missile strikes and artillery shelling

Its forces have made slow but steady progress in Donetsk and Luhansk, where they have more heavy weaponry in place than Ukraine which has suffered high casualties, according to intelligence assessments by the British government and others

Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of the Washington-based think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator, wrote in a recent Twitter thread that he believes this winter is "likely the earliest time for ending the hostilities." Alperovitch, one of the few independent Russian policy observers to correctly predict Russia's invasion of Ukraine before U.S

Budanov said that four months into the war, Russia has not achieved any of its "strategic tasks" in Ukraine, including the total seizure of territory in Donetsk and Luhansk. 

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