Putin warned how Ukraine will hamstring Russia to recapture Crimea

Vladimir Putin claims that Ukraine ‘attacked Crimea bridge’

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Vladimir Putin has been warned how Ukraine will “hamstring” Russia in its attempts to recapture Crimea as both sides prepare for arguably the most brutal battle of the year-long war. Crimea – which was annexed by Russia in 2014 – is seen by many military experts as a key moment in shaping the course of the war between the two countries. In October, Putin’s victory hopes in the war suffered a devastating blow when the Kerch Bridge between Crimea and Russia was rocked by a huge explosion that saw parts of the structure collapse into the sea.

Crimea is home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as well as a host of military airports and bases, and it is also critical for operational and logistical support of Russia’s southern front in Ukraine.

Now retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of the US Army Europe, has explained in detail how Ukraine can strategically attack Russia and recapture Crimea by the end of August.

He told Express.co.uk: “You will see a significant move that will help isolate Crimea, which is the decisive terrain. Once they can get Crimea, then the other stuff can wait and will follow.

“If they get what they need in terms of long-range weapons and if they are able to put together enough armoured formations – both Ukrainian, captured Russians and Western – they will have the combat power to overwhelm what I see as mostly long lines of trenches filled with unhappy, poorly led, recently mobilised soldiers.”

A key focus of the war between Russia and Ukraine has been the two military forces targeting each other’s vital infrastructure with long-range missiles in an attempt to gain a vital advantage in the conflict.

Lieutenant General Hodges believes this is a strategy Ukraine could use to its full potential over the coming weeks as it would severely “neutralise” the Russian advantage in Crimea.

He continued: “There are two routes connecting Crimea to the mainland and if you could sever those with long-range fire, then Crimea looks increasingly like a trap.

“You can then start hitting the very vulnerable Russian infrastructure on the Crimean peninsula. Ukraine could recapture Crimea by the end of August.

“By going after Russian headquarters and infrastructure, that will neutralise the Russian advantage. When you start hitting those, you really hamstring Russia’s ability to do anything.

“Ukraine has been very wise in going after Russian headquarters, transportation and ammunition storage facilities.”

This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used visits to the UK and Europe to passionately appeal to the respective parliaments to send fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine.

This comes with Ukrainian military officials warning Russia already has hundreds of fighter jets and thousands of tanks, ready for “a new wave of attacks” in the coming days.

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Russia is estimated to have a massive force of 1,800 tanks, 3,950 armoured vehicles, 810 multiple-rocket-launch systems and 400 fighter jets in its arsenal that could be used for a major offensive in Crimea.

Ukraine is reported to be prepared to utilise British long-range missiles in order to attack Russia’s seized peninsula.

Talks are understood to be underway about how many long-range missiles the UK could potentially supply to thwart the massive threat from Russia.

An unnamed Ukrainian defence official has estimated that Russia has readied 300 helicopters and 2,700 artillery systems, according to Foreign Policy, with the official warning Kyiv is expecting a large-scale invasion to occur within the coming weeks.

They said: “We expect in the next 10 days a new, huge invasion.”

But Ukraine stands ready to deploy British long-range missiles to attack the Crimean peninsula that was annexed back in 2014.

President Zelensky has been ramping up calls for Western allies to provide jets and longer-range missiles.

He made an impassioned plea to the UK parliament on Wednesday and in response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “nothing is off the table” in terms of the UK’s provision of military assistance to aid in the resistance to the Russian invasion.

In addition, it is also believed negotiations regarding the potential supply of Harpoon anti-ship missiles, which have a range of 150 miles and cost about £1.2million, have taken place.

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