In a fiery Sunday morning message, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence remained defiant and resolute on the fourth day of Russia’s assault on his nation.
“I am staying here!” Ukraine Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov said in a message to Military Times. “My wife is staying here! The defense of Kyiv is holding on.”
Back in a November interview with Military Times, Budanov laid out Ukraine’s assessment about how Russia was planning to attack. It was the first time those details were made public.
The attack Russia was preparing at the time, said Budanov, would be far more devastating than anything before seen in the conflict that began in 2014 that has seen some 14,000 Ukrainians killed. That has proven to be the case, as Russia assaults Ukrainian cities and ports from the ground, air and sea.
It was always known that Ukrainians would fight hard against any new invasion. Budanov Sunday morning told Military Times the efforts are having an effect.
“The enemy is having huge casualties,” he said. “We are using all arsenal of available assets, including operational-tactical missile systems, heavy MLRSs and large caliber artillery. The morale of defenders is high. We will be eliminating the enemy until the end, because they came to our land.”
His Sunday message amplified what he told Military Times on Saturday.
“We are ready to fight and pay the blood for freedom,” he said. “We are stay in defence and killing russians troops.”
In addition to the international arms pouring into Ukraine, the embattled nation might soon get some extra fighters. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced a new effort to help bolster Ukraine’s forces with foreign fighters who want to join the cause.
Called “The International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine,” the Ukraine government is inviting those who want to fight to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in their respective countries.
“Together we defeated Hitler, and we will defeat Putin, too,” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said in a tweet Sunday morning.
Budanov said he was happy to see the new appeal.
“We are glad to see any help in fighting the enemy,” he said.
But any defense of Ukraine, however, comes with a high cost, Budanov said.
“There are a lot of casualties among civil population: elders and children,” he said.
Official estimates say about 200 Ukrainians have been killed so far, including three children. More are expected to die while more than 120,000 have already fled.
Despite the costs, the fight will go on, Budanov vowed.
“Ukraine is not giving up!” he said. “The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine is working to the maximum of its efficiency. We conduct sabotages, ambushes, raids and liquidations! Me and my people will never, under any circumstances, betray our oath to serve Ukraine and its people!”
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.