ITV News global security editor Rohit Kachroo interviews Mykhailo Podolyak
An adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told ITV News he expects Ukraine could achieve victory over Russia by spring, with the right reinforcements.
Mykhailo Podolyak predicts the number of badly-trained Russian conscripts who die fighting in Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine will make Russians question the validity of what the Kremlin calls a "special operation".
Russia could be defeated in “between four and six months" as Ukrainian soldiers liberate a key city "little by little", he told ITV News.
Mr Podolyak explains why he thinks the war could end within months
The timing predictions rely on Zelenskyy's forces receiving the weapons Ukraine has requested from international partners - and on the supply of Iranian drones to Russia being halted.
"Russia will send a lot of untrained people and we will have to eliminate some of them. Why? To make people in Russia question why they are dying in such huge numbers in another country," Mr Podolyak told ITV News global security editor Rohit Kachroo.
Ukraine has been pushing ahead with an offensive to reclaim Kherson, a city, on the west bank of the Dnieper River, captured by Russian forces in the first days of the war.
Asked about Ukraine's plan for liberating the city, Mr Podolyak said: “We have definite plans and we are actively doing that. We don’t stop and every day there’s an intensive fight. We are liberating it little by little. Why? Because our principle is to minimise our own losses.”
Mr Podolyak hit back at Russia over claims that it is preparing to use a "dirty bomb" against the Kremlin's forces.
“Why should a country, which is effectively liberating its own land, use such a weird kind of weapon? What for? To damage our own reputation? It’s nonsense,” he said.
The so-called weapon uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste, and although it doesn’t have the devastating effect of a nuclear explosion it could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.
Faced with a series of setbacks on the war's frontline, and with winter approaching, Russia appears to be resorting to siege tactics.
It has intensified its attacks on Ukraine's power plants and other key infrastructure in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities as the war enters its ninth month.
What is Ukraine's plan for liberating Russian-held Kherson?
Ukrainians are braced for a hard winter, with large swathes of the country preparing for extended blackouts.
Parts of Kyiv were cut off from power and water supplies as a result of the attacks, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Monday.
Officials also reported possible power outages in the cities of Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia resulting from the strikes that hit critical infrastructure there.
On Monday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said it had completed a partial mobilisation of troops, claiming it had fulfilled to end the call-up at 300,000 men.
'Nonsense': Mr Podolyak vehemently denies Russia's 'dirty bomb' claim
Rare demonstrations erupted across Russia after Putin ordered a partial mobilisation of reservists in September to bolster his forces in Ukraine.The attack comes two days after Russia accused Ukraine of a drone attack against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet off the coast of the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine has denied the attack, saying that Russia mishandled its own weapons, but Moscow still announced halting its participation in a UN-brokered deal to allow safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukraine.
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