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Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya appointed by the Kremlin, has proclaimed that Russia possesses the military capabilities to secure the capital city of Kyiv, a feat he has declared Russia will accomplish by the end of the current calendar year.
"I believe that, by the end of the year, we will 100% complete the task set for us today," Kadyrov has declared, adding that it’s necessary to seize control of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and that it would be wrong to negotiate with the Ukrainian president.
Over the past few weeks, Russian forces have been attempting to tie down Ukrainian forces by escalating fighting in the eastern Donbas region. Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko recently said that battles for the Donetsk region have been heating up, and that Russian forces are “eradicating our towns and villages.”
Meanwhile, intense fighting has been raging on for weeks around the city of Bakhmut. Russia controls ~15% of Ukrainian territory, although it remains unclear how much control it has over seized territories.
Back in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed that there will be “no limitations” on spending for the military’s war in Ukraine, as Western sanctions and price caps hope to crush war coffers.
“The country and government is giving everything that the army asks for--everything. I trust that there will be an appropriate response and the results will be achieved,” Putin told top military officials at the Defense Ministry’s annual meeting in Moscow.
Previously, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin that Russia should expand its armed forces to 1.5 million troops, including 695,000 professional contract soldiers from the current 1.15 million in a bid to bolster security. Shoigu, however, has not explained where the additional recruits would be found with the latest mobilization drive deeply unpopular inside Russia.
Kadyrov’s and Putin’s bluster and show of defiance will, however, be put to test in the coming months as revenue from energy exports comes under pressure following price restrictions imposed by the U.S. and its allies. Whereas Russia ran a record current-account surplus in 2022, cash flows are expected to weaken considerably in 2023 as oil and gas sales to Europe plunge. Ukraine’s Ministry of Economy says it expects that the EU embargo on Russian oil and petroleum products should cut Russia’s profits by at least 50%.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
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Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.