Being kicked out of Crimea would signal ‘collapse’ of Russia’s war plan

Russian forces flee after being overwhelmed by Ukraine

A Ukrainian counter-offensive that includes an audacious bid to reclaim Crimea will lead to “Russian units leaving the field or collapsing”, claims a former US Lieutenant General. The Crimea operation could be central to the new attack plans, and promises to have far-reaching consequences, reports The Daily Express US.

Volodymyr Zelensky has been muted about how this could play out on the battlefield, but the Ukrainian President has been meeting world leaders over recent weeks in a likely bid to increase military support. Crimea has been under Russian control since 2014 when the peninsula was annexed. 

And now retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of the US Army Europe, has issued a damning verdict on Putin’s chances of success against Ukraine over the coming weeks.

He told Daily Express US: “After nine years (since the annexation of Crimea), Russia has still not figured out a coherent command structure.

“I think there are a lot of people not happy with how the war is going, either because it is not going the way they were led to believe it would go or because of the huge losses.

“There is a lot of tension and friction in different places, and a catastrophic loss like this, and as I look at the potential, this could put enormous pressure on all of these friction points.”

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Retired Lieutenant General Hodges warned that history shows from various wars over the years that when a force suffers a “tremendous setback” or their troops aren’t well trained or totally committed to the cause, they often “crack”.

He also let his thoughts known on the assessment of Russia’s current war effort, warning of shattering consequences if they struggle to defend the grounds. 

The former US Army officer added: “We know from history there is a psychological aspect that when a force is defeated in the field or if there is a tremendous setback in one place, if your soldiers and leaders are not well trained, disciplined and totally committed to their effort, then they crack.

“I don’t think you could find too many Russian soldiers that actually want to be in Ukraine right now. They are not defending their homeland – nobody buys that nonsense.

“If you see a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive within the next couple of months or so, and then major strikes all over Crimea, you will see the likelihood of Russian units leaving the field or collapsing, and that goes up significantly.”

Retired Lieutenant General Hodges believes the battle for Crimea has the potential to be the “determining factor” in which sides ultimately wins the intense war.

When asked if the battle for Crimea the US Army officer replied: “That is the determining factor.

“I would also think there will be massive pressure on Putin if Russia loses Crimea.

“But for Ukraine, this is not just about being a massive boost, in practical terms, it’s about eliminating the place from which the next Russian war would start.

“It’s also about opening up their Black Sea coastline so they can get the economy going again.

“As long as Russia occupies Crimea, I just don’t think you’re going to see serious investment in Ukraine. No investor is going to want to put money there knowing the Russians are going to start up again in a couple of years.

“So this has all kinds of important practical reasons for Ukraine, and not just the huge boost to their morale.”

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