Ukraine’s Head of Military Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been planning to seize the eastern portion of Ukraine completely in an attempt to create a division similar to that of North and South Korea splitting Ukraine into two.

“The occupiers will try to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure and pit it against independent Ukraine,” Budanov said. “We are already seeing attempts to create ‘parallel’ authorities in the occupied territories and force people to give up the Ukrainian currency.”

“In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine,” he further stated. “The season of a total Ukrainian guerrilla safari will soon begin. Then there will be one relevant scenario left for the Russians, how to survive.”

This comes after reports that Putin has shifted the Kremlin’s strategy to focus on the “liberation” of the entire Donbas region as it had failed to capture Kyiv so far, meeting strong resistance of the Ukrainians. Currently, the Russians control over 93% of the Luhansk region and around 54% of the Donetsk region, which may be the reason why it opted to shift to completely liberate the Donbas region as it had already controlled a majority of it.

Moscow had only made this announcement after it was found to be retreating from key cities and areas where their forces had faced a series of successful Ukrainian resistance, claiming back integral positions in Makariv (32 miles northwest of Kyiv), multiple areas 21 miles east of Kyiv, as well as pushes toward Hostomel Airfield, Mykolaiv, and Kherson.

Ukrainian soldier posing in Makariv after they had recaptured it (Michael A. Horowitz (@michaelh992) | Twitter)

“In the south of Ukraine, Russian forces are still attempting to circumvent Mykolaiv as they look to drive west towards Odesa, with their progress being slowed by logistic issues and Ukrainian resistance,” stated the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

Despite this, the Head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operational Directorate Sergei Rudskoi claimed that the main objectives of the “first stage” of their operation had been “generally” accomplished. He further claimed that they had “practically” destroyed Ukraine’s air force and anti-aircraft defense systems.

“The combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been considerably reduced, which … makes it possible to focus our core efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbas,” he said.

As an excuse for their forces visibly stalling in Ukraine due to low fuel and food, he had simply stated that it did not rule out further advancing into Ukrainian territory and was just going for a blockade tactic to the cities they surrounded. It was reported earlier by SOFREP Editor-in-chief Sean Spoonts that the Russians were seen to be digging into defensive positions north of Kyiv. According to him, it is not advisable that armored infantry digs into defensive positions as this would hamper their ability to be put into offensive formations, which is the exact opposite of what they were made to do, as staying static would make them easier targets.

“To put armored troops on the defensive is to waste them. They also lack the basic equipment an infantry unit has and needs to mount an effective static defense, like barbed wire, mines, crew-served machine guns, snipers, anti-tank missiles, and mortars. Their tanks and APCs are a liability in defense as their presence marks the position of the dug-in infantry from the air and invites artillery strikes by guns and missiles,” he said.

Intel also says that the Russian army’s logistics and supply chains were poorly planned. It was unable to supply its forces in Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Donbas (which they control a majority of), and forces close to Kyiv. Perhaps this may be the rationale behind their mechanized divisions digging into defensive positions. Worse, it is no secret that the Russian troops have been systematically abandoning their vehicles and equipment after they ran out of fuel and were found stuck in muddy terrain amid low morale issues. Intel suggests that around 550 Russian supply trucks were destroyed by Ukrainians, which indicates that they may have never received the ample support they severely needed.

A Russian tank captured by the Ukrainian forces (IUAWeapons Twitter Account). Source:
A Russian tank captured by the Ukrainian forces (UAWeapons (@UAWeapons) Twitter Account)

In fact, it has been very apparent that the Russians had been abandoning their perfectly functioning tanks and armored vehicles that numerous Russian tanks were seen to be for sale on eBay, with Ukraine joking that the Ukrainian farmers were now the 5th largest army in the world due to them stealing Russian tanks. Furthermore, Ukraine has more tanks now than before the start of the invasion, with Oryx stating that Ukrainian forces had captured at least 131 Russian tanks. Worse, Oryx had also reported that Russians suffered 310 destroyed tanks, 131 more damaged, and around 42 abandoned. This includes their prototype T-80UM2 MBT, which may indicate that they are losing battle-ready tanks and are sending anything that could run.

According to military analysts, this goal shift from Putin to split Ukraine into two is a mechanism for him to save face and salvage his so-called military operation, which is seen by many in the world to be a failure despite the massive destruction it has inflicted in several Ukrainian cities, with the southern port city of Mariupol taking continued bombing campaigns.

This had led to about 300 people dying during the Mariupol theater bombing alone, with deaths possibly in the thousands. Earlier reports on March 14 has revealed that around 2,500 civilians were killed in total. However, this number can be far higher due to the increased number of Russian sorties at about 300 per day. Despite this, it has failed to take the city through determined Ukrainian resistance, a resistance they did not expect.

Currently, the Luhansk region is set to hold a referendum to join Russia, to which Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko replied that any referendum had no validity.

“All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity,” he said. “Instead, Russia will facе an even stronger response from the international community, further deepening its global isolation.”

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova followed up on this statement during her appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” stating that Ukraine will not recognize the Donbas region as an independent state and that it was not “on the table” for Russian negotiations.

“There is no independent republics on the territory of Ukraine,” she said. “I think we shouldn’t ask Ukraine what we are ready to give up in order for Russia to stop this aggression. All of us should be asking each what are we prepared to do to stop it.”