Ukraine war could be over by CHRISTMAS as Russian army faces total collapse in humiliation for Putin
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 keeps up its counter-offensive, a senior British government source has claimed.
Ben Hodges, a former US military chief in charge of American forces in Europe, said Russian lines were collapsing fast.
“Based on all the things we are seeing it has the feeling of a collapse, at least in the Donbas area, and I do believe the Russians will be pushed beyond the February 23 line by the end of the year,” Hodges told The Time , referring to the date before Russia’s unwinnable invasion kicked off.
He said Putin’s army – once dubbed the ‘second best in the world’ – was one “that’s been defeated”.
The experienced commander said it could take Ukraine until summer next year to recapture Crimea given the build-up of quality Russian forces near the peninsula.
But if they retake Kherson – the Black Sea port city being closed in on – then they could push within range of Crimea and shower Russian checkpoints with long-range rockets supplied by Britain and America that can hit targets 50 miles away.
“Once they do, the people in Crimea are trapped,” said Hodges.
Russian lines are said to be dramatically collapsing in eastern Ukraine as President Zelensky’s men continue their lightning counter-offensive in the region.
Ukrainian fighters have recaptured swatches of territory in the north-east Kharkiv region and are narrowing in on Kherson – which, if captured – would be a monumental and embarrassing defeat for the Kremlin.
Putin fired the commander of the eastern military district following the horror losses.
But a Ukrainian victory by Christmas has been mooted by some analysts who called the idea “impossible”.
Mattia Nelles, an analyst focused on Ukraine, said Russia still had tons of troops and weapons in Kherson and were ready to fight to the bitter end.
“Maybe Ukraine can attract these forces by the end of the year and [make] them withdraw east of the Dnipro but that is not enough to make the front in the south collapse,” he said.
He said Ukraine would have to muster a new offensive from the southern city of Zaporizhzhya towards Melitopol if they had any chance of beating back Russian troops by Christmas.
“If that is happening and successful we could see a full collapse of the southern front. But we are far away from that,” Nelles added.
It comes as British intelligence said Russian tanks now make up a large chunk of Ukraine’s armour.
The Ministry of Defense said Kyiv had captured and repurposed at least 440 Russian battle tanks and 650 armored vehicles.
It comes as Putin’s prized bridge linking Russia to Crimea exploded in a massive inferno after Ukraine threatened to strike it.
The Kerch bridge exploded in a fireball and partially collapsed early on Saturday as a train passed over it in what’s being dubbed a speculator blow to Putin’s war efforts.
I do believe the Russians will be pushed beyond the February 23 line by the end of the year
Dan Hodges, former US commander of American troops in Europe
The explosion – which comes just a day after Putin’s birthday – took out a section of a road bridge which runs parallel to the stricken rail route – collapsing it into the Black Sea.
The bridge being out of action will seriously hit Putin’s supply routes to Russian troops in under-fire Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
It’s also a huge hit to Putin’s prestige, who staked his reputation on keeping the peninsula safe from Ukrainian attack.
Both the rail and road bridges are hated symbols of Russia’s occupation of Crimea and have been key supply routes through Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Extraordinary footage from the scene shows a train – allegedly carrying fuel – engulfed in flames and the bridge’s foundations buckling under the sheer force of the fire.
Witnesses reported hearing explosions at around 6am local time which could be heard from miles away.
Another clip suggests a truck exploded while on the road section of the bridge as it drove towards Kerch in Crimea.
Russia forcibly took control of Crimea in 2014 and built what is still the longest bridge Moscow has ever constructed four years later.
The railway span is part of a pair of parallel bridges, crossing the Kerch Strait linking Krasnodar in Russia and Crimea.
Some 11 miles long, the road bridge was opened by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2018, with the railway bridge opening two years later.
Yuri Podolyaka, a popular pro-Russian blogger, said: “It looks like this is the prelude to the main strike of the Ukrainians in the south.
“If over the next few days Ukraine does not plunge into darkness and strikes are not carried out on the bridges across the Dnieper, I personally will consider it a sign of an [epic failure].”
The Putin-loving influencer suggested the explosion was caused by a suicide bomb.
“I am not fully sure that there was a suicide bomber or 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.”
I suggested those behind the act detonated the explosives at a moment of their choosing.
“In Kyiv, they do not hesitate to take responsibility.
“They call the explosion a ‘special operation of the SBU’ [Ukrainian secret services].
“The handwriting is not quite typical for the special services of Ukraine.
“But, on the other hand, the enemy’s capabilities are great, and this must be recognized.”