Ukraine could “restore full sovereignty” within a year, retaking all of its lost territory including Crimea, retired US General Ben Hodges told Newsweek on Thursday at the Tbilisi International Conference of the McCain Institute in Georgia.
Hodges is now a lobbyist at the Centre for European Policy Analysis, a pressure group funded by NATO and US arms manufacturers. Western support for Kiev has resulted in a financial bonanza for these companies.
- “The Ukrainians saved their country,” Hodges gushed, declaring that “half a year after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion…the supposed second-best army in the world is now the second-best army in Ukraine,” with Russia’s “ability to conduct further offensive operations…all but exhausted.”
Now, Hodges said, it was up to the US and NATO to step in and make sure the war is won, starting with a full-throated proclamation of support for Kiev.
- Washington should stop publicizing the cost of the military aid it sends overseas, he continued, suggesting the deliveries be framed in terms of the percentage of “what is needed for Ukraine to defeat Russia and regain their territory.”
The retired general did not elaborate on how those numbers could be calculated.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has poured over $44 billion into the war effort since February.
While Ukraine and its Western backers have declared the Kherson counteroffensive a rousing success, boasting of recapturing several villages, Kiev has banned journalists from the front lines, making these claims difficult to verify.
Russia has argued the initiative “failed miserably,” pointing to the loss of over 1,200 Ukrainian servicemen in a single day of fighting.
Ukrainian MP Alexey Goncharenko echoed Hodges’ optimism in comments to Newsweek, declaring “next year will be the decisive year of the war” and that “with the help of the free world, Ukraine has an opportunity to win.”
That will require a lot more weapons, he clarified, mentioning aircraft, air defense systems, and rockets superior to the HIMARS.
Crimea became part of Russia in the wake of a 2014 referendum following the US-backed overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev.
Ukraine and NATO consider it illegally annexed territory, and the US has reportedly given Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky the go-ahead to attack the peninsula.
The Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk declared their independence that same year and were recognized as independent states by the Kremlin this past February.
- Zelensky has vowed to retake all three regions, promising on Sunday that “Ukraine will return” to Donbass, Kharkov, Zhaporozhye, Kherson, and “definitely to Crimea.”