Putin’s offensive in Ukraine could lead to a loss of Ukrainian territory by the end of the year, according to former Russian oligarch and dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The situation in Ukraine is becoming increasingly difficult for the defenders. As the “Hamburger Abendblatt” reports, former Russian oligarch and dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky warns that Ukraine could lose the city of Kharkiv to Russia by the end of the year. Khodorkovsky, now living in exile, made his dire prediction at a Russia congress in Berlin, saying: “By the end of the year, Ukraine will lose Kharkiv.”

According to the report, Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched a summer offensive in Ukraine. The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) estimates Russia’s troop strength at around 510,000 soldiers, which outnumbers the Ukrainian army. In the conflict, the front stretches for almost 1,200 kilometers and small attacks were recorded by the Russian side along this line. Jack Watling, a military expert at RUSI, particularly highlights advances against Kharkiv and the south of the country. In addition, the advance in Donbass would also be expanded to make Ukraine aware that it cannot stop Russia’s advance.

Australian military expert Mick Ryan also sees two major failures by the Ukrainian government in recent months that could have exacerbated this situation. According to the “Hamburger Abendblatt”, he particularly criticizes the hesitant behavior of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government to recruit more soldiers, as well as the week-long blockage of military aid for Ukraine in the US Congress.

The USA also recognizes the severity of the situation. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized the priority of air defense in his opening speech at the Ramstein Format virtual summit. Austin called on partners to support Ukraine and confirmed that more help is on the way.

According to the “Hamburger Abendblatt,” Ukrainian President Zelensky also recently expressed concern about the offensive on Kharkiv, emphasizing that it was “just the beginning.” This presents the Ukrainian military with a difficult decision: it can continue to deploy air defense installations around critical infrastructure or move them to the front lines, thereby compromising on protection.

However, Khodorkovsky’s forecasts do not end with the impending danger for Kharkiv. He also sees the future of Ukraine bleak and predicts that Odessa could be lost “by mid-2025”. He even expects a partisan war in Ukraine by mid-2026. Nevertheless, Khodorkovsky also emphasizes that massive support from the West could still avert this development: “Unless the West supports it massively.”

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