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Vladimir Putin’s own soldiers are now warning Russia is on the brink of losing Crimea nearly 10 years after its illegal annexation.
A new intercepted phone call between a Russian soldier and his family has highlighted how Russian troops are preparing for Ukraine to reline their counteroffensive on liberating the peninsula.
While initially focused their efforts on the newly invaded territories, Ukraine’s forces have increasingly conducted operations in Crimea.
And Volodymyr Zelensky insisted the liberation of the country will not be complete until Russian troops are removed from the peninsula.
The Ukrainian military intelligence this week released an audio file of what it alleged to be an intercepted call of a Russian soldier discussing Ukraine’s plans for Crimea.
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The clip, shared on the military intelligence directorate (GUR)’s Telegram channel, purportedly recorded the soldier informing a friend that Ukraine would soon deploy up to 150,000 men with tanks to the peninsula.
The man can be heard saying Kyiv’s defense forces are “preparing something” in Crimea, first claiming 100,000 soldiers would be deployed before amending his estimate to 150,000.
“All these tanks, all that they have prepared, will be f*****g thrown in now. They want to recapture Crimea,” he said
The man added the first two forces Zelensky is planning to send in “are offensive, and the third will be a sweep.”
Further translation of the clip shows the friend attempting to reassure his fighting pal that Putin’s men would be able to push back against Kyiv’s forces.
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The Ukrainian president had previously said he wanted to avoid a direct conflict with Moscow on the peninsula and instead reclaim it by political pressure.
The audio is one of several allegedly intercepted calls GUR has recorded in recent months showing Russian troops seemingly questioning Putin and the strength of the Russian Army.
Ukraine launched its counteroffensive in early June and lately has reported a string of successes in reclaiming territory Russia occupied after February 22, 2022.
This week, Kyiv said that it recaptured strategic gas and oil drilling platforms from Russia in the Black Sea and claimed gains in occupied areas near Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine left in ruins after the war’s longest and deadliest fighting.
The recapture of the so-called Boyko Towers platforms provides an energy source and takes back an asset that Russia seized in 2015 and used to launch helicopters, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said.
“Russia has been deprived of the ability to fully control the waters of the Black Sea, and this makes Ukraine many steps closer to regaining Crimea,” the Main Intelligence Directorate said.
The Russian Defense Ministry didn’t make any immediate comment on the Ukrainian claim, but it has previously reported that Russian warplanes destroyed several Ukrainian speedboats in the area.
In fighting, Ukrainian forces liberated part of the Donetsk province town of Optyne and advanced on the towns of Klishchiivka and Andriivka south of Bakhmut, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said.
Combat has persisted on the outskirts of Bakhmut since Ukrainian troops pulled out of the city in May. Ukraine is trying to gain the high ground in Klishchiivka, to establish artillery control over Bakhmut.
In southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province, Ukraine’s primary counteroffensive forces were inching closer to overcoming Russian fortifications and dense minefields to take Tokmak, a critical logistics hub for Russian forces and a vital railway junction, Malyar said.
Ukrainian forces liberated Robotyne, a town in the same province, last month.
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