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Ukraine spy chief plays down Trump risks, requests “sharp increase” in weapons

Unfazed by Russian accusations around the circumstances of an IL-76 airplane disaster right before the POW swap, Ukraine’s spy chief told CNN he foresees the conclusion of Russia’s advances on the battlefield in coming months as he makes a fresh appeal for weapons from Western backers.
ukraine chief of the main intelligence directorate
Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Source: Armyinform

As the US Congress stalls military aid to Ukraine and the EU admits it will not meet artillery shell production targets, Ukraine’s intel chief stays optimistic about the war outcome while requesting more weapons.

Speaking in a CNN interview, Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, said he “doesn’t worry much” about prospects of reduced US support under a potential Trump presidency.

“We are expecting a positive decision anyway,” Budanov told CNN, regarding Congressional debates on aid. “To say that [Trump] and the Republican Party are lovers of the Russian Federation is complete nonsense.”

With ammunition shortages constraining Ukraine’s forces, Budanov stressed artillery systems and shells as vital needs. “Shells are one of the most decisive factors in this war,” he said. “Not so much the quality as the quantity.” Ukraine has struggled to match Russia’s vast firepower.

Budanov also wants to see additional drones and ground-attack jets, like the durable A-10 Warthog, that “can really help inflict a military defeat” on Russia’s occupying troops.

The American A-10 Thunderbolt is a single-seat, twin-turbofan, straight-wing, subsonic attack aircraft developed by Fairchild Republic for the United States Air Force. A-10s have been in service since 1976. Ukrainian military leadership has already publicly requested these aircraft. According to the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, the jet is reliable despite its obsolescence.

A-10 “has proven itself in many wars and has a wide array of weapons for destroying land targets to help the infantry,” he told Reuters.

On 31 January, hundreds of prisoners of war were exchanged following the crash of a Russian plane and Russian officials and state-controlled media claiming that it was carrying Ukrainian POWs. Budanov told CNN that Russia failed to provide evidence supporting its claim that Ukraine downed the aircraft with POWs onboard.

“If everything is as they say, then the first thing they should have done was to show a gruesome picture…the field covered with corpses,” Budanov stated. But Russian state media footage only revealed a small number of bodies at the crash site.

The spy chief foresees infrastructure attacks in Russia potentially expanding, while frontlines remain largely stalled in the short term. However, he mentioned that the upcoming six months would be interesting as it would mark the conclusion of Russia’s ongoing advancement on the frontlines. Budanov expressed confidence in an ultimate Ukrainian victory, despite concerns over US assistance.

“The establishment of justice — This is how it will end,” Budanov said. “With the return of what was lost.” But first, Ukraine’s forces require a “sharp increase” in firepower from Western allies, he pleaded.

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