The head of Ukraine's intelligence forces said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin 'drove himself into a dead end' and that his war in Ukraine will end with his demise.
In an extensive interview with The New Voice of Ukraine, Major-General Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (GUR) of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, said that Putin chose the "path of genocide" and that "all the problems of the Russian army have just emerged."
Putin's failures, Budanov said, began on the day that his forces entered Ukraine, according to a translation provided by The Daily Beast.
"It was a great PR. All they spent money on was to show the greatness of the Russian army in the world. Now everyone has seen - there is no greatness," Budanov remarked on Putin's pre-invasion bluster. "It is impossible to compare the military potential of Russia and Ukraine before the start of this phase of the war, which began on February 24: it is a ten-fold, and in some respects twenty-fold advantage of the Russian Federation. However, real hostilities have shown real problems: they have a quantitative indicator, of course, but no qualitative one. Secondly, rather low motivation. The losses they have suffered during this time have a strong impact on them."
Budanov foresees increasingly brash decisions being jettisoned out of the Kremlin, including a potential surge of false-flag terrorist attacks inside Russia's borders.
"Look what's happening. Many explosions, many destroyed objects - and Russia blames only Ukraine for everything. Look at the situation with Transnistria, for example. Of course, this is a good position - to blame Ukraine for everything. And how is all this possible? Can anyone explain?" he posited.
Timing, Budanov continued, is not on Putin's side either. He noted that Russia's upcoming World War II Victory Day celebrations on May 9th will arrive far too soon for Putin to have accomplished anything in Ukraine.
Budanov also pointed out that "the Russian army is completely demotivated. However, there is a military vertical - commands come to them, and they will be forced to carry them out. Whether you like it or not, there is an order, and you will carry it out. If you don't do it, you go to prison, there are many different options. Therefore, their moral condition is not significant. They will carry out the order."
Incidentally, The Daily Beast reported on Monday that Putin has been "transporting the corpses" of fallen Russian fighters "back to Russia in small groups in order to avoid suspicion that Russia’s invasion is sustaining massive losses or faltering in Ukraine."
Estimates of Russian casualties in Ukraine range from 7,000 to 23,000, although independent verification of those figures has been elusive.
Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, has insisted that May 9th has nothing to do with Ukraine.
Nevertheless, given how poorly Russia has performed, Putin is staring at certain defeat, even if he deploys strategic atomic bombs as a last-ditch means to claim a win, Budanov explained.
"The chance to use tactical nuclear weapons has always been. There is no point in using strategic nuclear weapons, because we are close enough to each other. But tactical nuclear weapons and their use will simply hasten the end of Russia," he said. "This war is over."
Budanov then laid out two scenarios that he believes will mark the end of the conflict.
"The unofficial one," Budanov said, will be orchestrated by Russia's heavily-sanctioned oligarchy.
"They are afraid of losing their wealth. And they understand how it will end very quickly for them," he said. This approach, however, presumes that Putin manages to negotiate his way out of the crisis.
The more likely conclusion, Budanov predicted, is that Putin is eliminated altogether.
"Leaving him a way to retreat is one of the strategies, but it is almost unrealistic. He is a war criminal for the whole world. This is his end," Budanov said. "He drove himself into a dead end."