Putin may disappear for some reason or someone from his circle, something happens, said Deputy Defense Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Gavrilov
An unexpected event in Russia involving President Vladimir Putin or his close entourage could give Ukraine the opportunity to regain Crimea by the end of the year, the country’s Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Gavrilov said, quoted by Newsweek.
On a trip to Britain to discuss London’s support for Ukraine’s armed forces, Gavrilov was asked by Sky News if it was “realistic” to retake the peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, by January.
He referred to the “black swan” theory, in which an unexpected event overturns previous calculations. “I think Russia may face a ‘black swan’ in its own country, inside Russia, and that may contribute to our success with Crimea,” he said.
“We can set foot in Crimea, for example, by the end of December,” Gavrilov said, which is “possible” and “not excluded.”
When asked what this unforeseen event could be, Gavrilov replied: “Putin, for example, disappears for some reason,” which is “physical or political.”
“Either someone in his circle, something going on, or maybe a combination of a very disillusioned society in terms of the losses,” he added.
After Ukraine liberated the southern city of Kherson, there was speculation about which areas could be the next focus for Kyiv’s forces.
In October, the attack on the Kerch Strait bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula led to a public relations reversal for Kyiv, which views it as a symbol of Russian occupation.
Local media in Crimea have reported that Russians are fleeing to neighboring Russia’s Krasnodar region amid fears that Ukraine will soon move to retake the region, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to do.
On Friday, the British Ministry of Defense reported that Russian units had built new trench systems near the border with Crimea, as well as near the Seversky Donets River between Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of US Army Europe, tweeted on November 12 that US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems (HIMARS) “will soon be firing from Kherson” and that “approaches to Crimea are in range”.
He said it could “degrade Russian defences” as the Ukrainian counter-offensive seeks to capture the cities of Mariupol and Melitopol “by January”. Then begins the decisive phase of the campaign… the liberation of Crimea.”
Gavrilov told Sky News that Kyiv would hold talks with Moscow only when Russian troops were ready to leave all of Ukraine, including Crimea, and ruled out a pause in hostilities as it would allow Russian forces to regroup.
“We have no right to stop, we have to move forward,” he said as he pointed out how Ukraine must prepare for a war that would take “some time” if Russia were to build up its forces. However, he added: “My feeling is that by the end of spring this war (will) be over.”