In his op-ed published by The Telegraph, the former commander of US Army Europe, Lt-Gen (Retired) Ben Hodges, argues that Ukraine can retake Crimea within months if given the necessary support.
He criticizes Western politicians who believe it is impossible or undesirable for Ukraine to retake Crimea and advocates for a military rather than a diplomatic solution. Hodges emphasizes that Crimea is the decisive terrain in the Russo-Ukrainian war:
“No amount of political sophistry will change the fact that Crimea is the decisive terrain in this war. You can kill many hundreds of Russians on the outskirts of Bakhmut and have little strategic effect. But if you remove hundreds from Sevastopol, the Russian navy base in Crimea, you will have changed the course of history and effectively ended the war,” he says.
Ben Hodges says that he has recently suggested a three-point plan for retaking it, which comprises:
- isolating Crimea by breaking the Russian-occupied land bridge to the peninsula;
- making it untenable for Russian forces by using Western-provided long-range precision missiles to target Russian military bases and logistics;
- liberating the peninsula itself and completing the destruction of the Kerch Bridge connecting it to Russia.
Hodges believes the Ukrainians have the will, manpower, and military competency to achieve this. Western politicians must agree that this is the quickest way to end the war and provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs. He argues that there is no need to travel the world looking for a diplomatic solution that has come to mean a division of Ukrainian land when a simpler solution is ready for the taking.
Hodges believes that retaking Crimea would lead to the total collapse of Russia’s campaign, bring peace within months, and humiliate Putin and his administration to such an extent that their rule would fall into deep peril. He concludes that the world needs to send a message that Europe will be defended and that Ukraine can retake Crimea if we let it.
“Russia is not what it once was, having lost confidence and military esteem. Its last hope is to wait desperately for political winds to change in the West. Are we going to give it that opening? Or shall we finally send a message to the world that Europe will be defended?” he asks.
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