Mikhail Khodaryonok, a former Russian air defense commander and a Russian state TV commentator, predicted that Ukraine will use high-precision weaponry to carry out an expected counteroffensive by first launching a “massive strike” within Russia.
He made his predictions while assessing the heavy weaponry in Ukraine’s possession during a Russian state TV segment posted Thursday with English subtitles by BBC Monitoring reporter Francis Scarr.
Ukraine has reportedly been preparing for a spring counteroffensive to take back its territories occupied by Russia since the war began with the February 2022 invasion. The country’s military capabilities have been bolstered by Western aid in recent months, including advanced military equipment, tanks and artillery.
However, on Thursday President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv is delaying the counteroffensive because Ukraine lacks enough Western weapons to succeed without excessive casualties, the Associated Press reported.
In his remarks, which were made earlier, Khodaryonok said the delay in launching the counteroffensive is due to Ukraine waiting for the arrival of additional high-precision weaponry.
“We’ve seen isolated cases of [Joint Direct Attack Munition] ammunition being used, but they are yet to be used on a large scale. HIMARS ammunition—we don’t know how much they’ve supplied or with which range either.” (HIMARS is an acronym for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a missile launcher.)
“So in my view…Ukraine’s [counter] offensive operation will begin with a massive strike using that high-precision weaponry as deep as possible on all possible sites in Russia. Primarily infrastructure sites, of course,” Khodaryonok said.
Ukrainian servicemen prepare a tank at a position near the front-line city of Bakhmut on April 29. On Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv is delaying the country’s expected counteroffensive against Russian forces.
Newsweek reached out for comment by email to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said late last month that preparations for the counteroffensive are in their final stages and that Ukrainian troops are being trained to use the weapons and military equipment provided by the West.
“The preparations are coming to an end, as in addition to weapons and military equipment there must be training for our military personnel in how to use them. We have received state-of-the-art systems,” Reznikov told reporters at the time.
Nearly two months after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Khodaryonok strongly criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort in the Eastern European country. He warned at the time that the situation for Russian troops “will frankly get worse.” But he then made a contradictory statement shortly afterward, praising Russia’s military capabilities.
During the Thursday segment posted by Scarr, Khodaryonok said the Ukrainians will not announce the start of the counteroffensive until they have their “first results of operational significance,” such as succeeding in taking back one of their occupied territories.
Remember Mikhail Khodaryonok, the former Russian colonel who gave a brutally honest assessment of the invasion a few months in before later making an abrupt u-turn?
Today he warns that Ukraine’s counter-offensive will begin with mass missile strikes on targets deep inside Russia pic.twitter.com/zDwB07MYG4
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 11, 2023
“But precisely at that moment, when they carry out that massive strike and an electronic attack, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ offensive operation will have begun,” he said. “They’re lacking something, and it seems they’re waiting for another batch to arrive.”
He continued: “It’s better for us in this respect to be safe than sorry and prepare for the worst-case scenario.”
Last month, Khodaryonok warned that Ukraine could target Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, by possibly using missiles to strike Russian ships and facilities.
“They will clearly be among the priorities,” Khodaryonok said at the time. “There is the Crimean bridge, including all other communications that are used to transport matériel, the airfield network, the control posts, the Black Sea Fleet ships that are in roadsteads and at anchorages.”
He continued: “All the forces and means of the Ukrainian side will be used to hit these sensitive facilities.”
Khodaryonok also said that Ukrainian missile systems “and other facilities with the range to hit these targets will definitely be used.”