THE war in Ukraine could be over by Christmas as the Russian army faces total collapse in a massive humiliation for Vladimir Putin.
Mad Vlad’s forces could be pushed back to the Russian border by the end of the year if Kyiv continues its counter-offensive, a senior British government source has claimed.
Ben Hodges, a former US military chief in charge of US forces in Europe, said Russian lines were rapidly collapsing.
“Based on all the things we’re seeing, at least in the Donbass, there’s a sense of collapse and I believe the Russians will be pushed past the February 23 line by the end of the year,” Hodges told The Time refers to the date before Russia’s unwinnable invasion began.
He said Putin’s army – once described as “the second best in the world” – is one “that has been defeated”.
The veteran commander said that given the buildup of high-quality Russian forces near the peninsula, Ukraine could take until the summer of next year to recapture Crimea.
But if they retake Kherson – the Black Sea port city will be encircled – then they could get within range of Crimea and bombard Russian checkpoints with long-range missiles, supplied by Britain and America, that can hit targets 50 miles away.
“Once they do that, the people of Crimea are trapped,” Hodges said.
Russian lines are set to collapse dramatically in eastern Ukraine as President Zelenskyy’s men continue their blitz counteroffensive in the region.
Ukrainian fighters have retaken parts of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region and are closing in on Kherson – which, if caught, would be a monumental and embarrassing defeat for the Kremlin.
Putin fired the commander of the Eastern Military District after the horrific losses.
But a Ukrainian victory by Christmas has been mooted by some analysts, who have called the idea “impossible”.
Mattia Nelles, an analyst focusing on Ukraine, said Russia still has tons of troops and weapons in Kherson and is ready to fight to the bitter end.
“Perhaps Ukraine can wear down these forces by the end of the year and [make] They are retreating east of the Dnieper, but that’s not enough to collapse the front in the south,” he said.
He said Ukraine must mount a new offensive from the southern city of Zaporizhia to Melitopol if it has a chance to repel Russian troops by Christmas.
“If that happens and is successful, we could see a complete collapse of the southern front. But we’re a long way from that,” added Nelles.
It comes as British intelligence has said that Russian tanks now make up a large part of Ukraine’s armaments.
The Defense Ministry said Kyiv captured and repurposed at least 440 Russian main battle tanks and 650 armored vehicles.
It comes as Putin’s prized bridge linking Russia to Crimea blew up in a violent inferno after Ukraine threatened to attack it.
The Kerch Bridge blew up in a fireball and partially collapsed early Saturday when a train passed over it in what has been described as a speculative strike for Putin’s war effort.
I believe the Russians will be pushed past the February 23 line by the end of the year
Dan Hodges, former US commander of American troops in Europe
The blast – which came just a day after Putin’s birthday – destroyed a section of a road bridge that runs parallel to the affected railway line – and plunged into the Black Sea.
The disabled bridge will seriously affect Putin’s supply routes to Russian troops in shell-beating Kherson and Zaporizhia.
It’s also a major blow to Putin’s prestige, who has jeopardized his reputation to defend the peninsula from Ukrainian attacks.
Both the railway and road bridges are hated symbols of the Russian occupation of Crimea and were important supply routes during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Extraordinary footage from the scene shows a train, said to be carrying fuel, bursting into flames and the bridge’s foundations collapsing under the sheer force of the fire.
Witnesses reported hearing explosions around 6 a.m. local time, which could be heard for miles.
Another clip suggests that a truck exploded on the road section of the bridge as it headed towards Kerch, Crimea.
Russia violently took control of Crimea in 2014 and four years later built what is still the longest bridge Moscow has ever built.
The railway line is part of a pair of parallel bridges crossing the Kerch Strait, connecting Krasnodar in Russia to Crimea.
The roughly 11-mile road bridge was opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, with the rail bridge two years later.
Yuri Podolyaka, a popular pro-Rus blogger, said: “It looks like this is the prelude to the Ukrainians’ main strike in the south.
“If Ukraine doesn’t fall into darkness in the next few days and there aren’t any strikes on the bridges across the Dnieper, I personally see that as a sign of one [epic failure].”
The Putin-loving influencer suspected the explosion was caused by a suicide bomb.
“I’m not entirely sure whether there were one or more suicide bombers behind the wheel of the truck that was blown up on the Crimean bridge,” he said.
“Most likely people were used ‘in the dark’ [unaware of the deadly cargo]… and the explosion was controlled.”
He suggested that those behind the crime set off the explosives at a moment of their choosing.
“In Kyiv, they do not hesitate to take responsibility.
“They call the explosion a ‘special SBU operation’ [Ukrainian secret services].
“The handwriting is not entirely typical of Ukraine’s special services.
“But then again, the enemy’s capabilities are great, and that needs to be acknowledged.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6396587/ukraine-war-over-by-christmas-russian-army-total-collapse/ The war in Ukraine could be over by CHRISTMAS as the Russian army faces total collapse in humiliation for Putin