US General Hodges explains why Ukraine needs to de-occupy Crimea first
Former Commanding General of the US Army in Europe Ben Hodges has said that Ukraine should liberate Donbas after it de-occupies Crimea
Hodges stated this in an interview with TSN, UNIAN reports.
According to the retired US general, Ukraine will never be safe as long as Crimea remains occupied.
"Ukraine's top priority is to reclaim Crimea. As long as Russia continues its occupation, Ukraine will not be able to fully secure investments for reconstruction. Russia's actions, such as obstructing maritime traffic to and from the Sea of Azov and Odesa, demonstrate their intention to disrupt trade routes. Thus, it's crucial to concentrate our efforts on liberating Crimea," emphasized Hodges.
He advised the Ukrainian authorities and the AFU General Staff to clearly state the fact that Donbas is critical, but Crimea is the main goal.
"Russia must be disabled militarily, at the very least. The Black Sea Fleet must be removed from Crimea, along with the Russian Air Forces and their ability to launch drones from there. This can be achieved through high-precision strikes from long distances. The priority should be the liberation of Crimea. Donbas is important. But let the Russians continue killing themselves in Donbas while Ukrainians continue mustering their forces and focus on the goal of liberating Crimea. Let us concentrate on the necessary actions to achieve this," Hodges stated.
He advised Ukraine to deploy new units in the direction of Melitopol and Mariupol instead of Bakhmut in May-June.
"I believe that Ukraine's armed formations, which are being prepared, should not be immediately deployed into the battle for Bakhmut in May-June. Instead, they should be tactically directed towards Melitopol and Mariupol to cut off the land bridge. After that, more HIMARS can be deployed to launch strikes at Sevastopol, Dzhankoi, Saky, and other key locations. This will make it almost impossible for the Russians to maintain their presence there. This is how Ukraine can achieve victory," Hodges stressed.
On January 21, Ben Hodges said that Ukraine might liberate Crimea by the end of summer if the Western partners provide necessary weapons and long-range missiles.
On February 28, Hodges published a plan of Russian troops neutralization in the temporarily occupied Crimea.