The head of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said it could take Russia two years to seize the entire east of Ukraine, reported the Guardian. In a rare interview, he suggested that at least some key figures in Moscow are gearing up for a protracted conflict. Yevgeny Prigozhin has emerged from the shadows to become a high-profile figure since the start of the war.
The head of the Wagner group further said that Russia’s focus has now shifted towards capturing the rest of the Donbas region which has not yet been occupied since the start of the war. To achieve this goal, it would take “about one and a half to two more years of work," said the close aide of President Vladimir Putin.
"If the goal was to occupy all of Ukraine east of the Dnipro River, this would take about three years," said
While talking about the Russian aggression, Ukrainian officials have expected an imminent Russian onslaught which has been predicted to be before the first anniversary of the start of the war on 24 February, as per the Guardian report.
“It is probably too early to say that we are close. There are many roads out and fewer roads in. Ukrainian troops are well trained and, like any large city, it is impossible to capture it from head-on,” said Prigozhin while talking about Russia's plan for the Russia-Ukraine war. Further, he added, "We are managing very well. First, we have to quietly take [Bakhmut] and then we can say loud and clear that we have taken it."
One of the scenarios would see Russian troops trying to encircle Ukraine’s eastern army from the north and south, with tank columns crossing the international border in the direction of Sumy and Poltava, and advancing simultaneously from the occupied southern Zaporizhzhia region, said Prigozhin, the Wagner Group head.