Top Russian general admits his troops 'cannot win' against Ukraine

A top Russian general has claimed his troops ‘cannot win’ against Ukraine and has begged Putin to freeze the war along the current frontlines.

Alexander Khodakovsky made the candid concession on his Telegram channel yesterday after Russian forces suffered a devastating defeat by Ukrainian marines at Urozhaine in the Zaporizhzhia-Donetsk regional border area earlier this week.

‘Can we bring down Ukraine militarily? Now and in the near future, no’ said  Khodakovsky, who leads the Vostok Battalion fighting in southern Ukraine.

‘When I talk to myself about our destiny in this war, I mean that we will not crawl forward, like the [Ukrainians], turning everything into [destroyed] Bakhmuts in our path. And, I do not foresee the easy occupation of cities,’ he added.

‘We can [though] enter a phase that is most unfavorable for Ukraine in its ‘independent’ state: a phase of neither peace nor war. We could be in this phase if, instead of the special military operation, the [currently occupied] territories were recognized and officially taken under guardianship. But it would require a completely different twist of history,.’

Khodakovsky also concluded that the likely eventual outcome of the war is some form of ‘truce.’

His comments come after the Vostok Battalion was recently pushed out of the strategically-valuable village of Urozhaine, with Khodakovsky saying earlier this month that they left because their ‘defensive position had become untenable.’

By taking both Urozhaine and the nearby village Staromayorske, which are only separated by a small river, Ukraine’s troops have gained a key position from which to attack Russian troops, CNN reported.  

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Monday that Ukraine had also recaptured around 40 square kilometres of territory around Bakhmut over the past week.

US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Khodakovsky’s comments are an attempt to resurrect the narrative pushed by Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin prior to his failed rebellion in June.

In April, Prigozhin stated that Russia should freeze the war in Ukraine to set conditions for a future victory without negotiations.

ISW said that ‘Russian sources have periodically claimed that a Kremlin faction is interested in freezing the war along the current frontlines for similar reasons, as well as over concerns about domestic political stability and the economic fallout from the war.’

‘Khodakovsky may be reintroducing the narrative into the Russian information space on behalf of the faction allegedly interested in freezing the war, although Khodakovsky likely has limited influence on the Russian leadership itself,’ ISW said.

More practically, ISW also believes Khodakovsky’s comments show that recent Ukrainian advances may be significantly weakening confidence in the Russian defence along the frontlines in southern Ukraine.

The think-tank added: ‘Khodakovsky’s escalation from calling for an operational pause to suggesting that Russia freeze the conflict is likely associated with his firsthand experience of recent tactically significant Ukrainian advances and the degradation of defending Russian forces in Urozhaine,’

Khodakovsky is a former commander of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), but defected to Russia after they attacked the Donbas region in 2014 and later became the security minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic. 

He left that post in 2014 and has been commanding troops in the Donbas region ever since.

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