Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many have found it difficult to remain optimistic. The American war strategist John Spencer keeps trying to inspire hope on social media. In an interview with FOCUS Online, he explains why he thinks Ukraine’s chances are good.

“Vladimir Putin totally miscalculated – and I see absolutely every day that the Russian army misses its targets as a victory for Ukraine. Ukrainians are getting stronger every day. And likewise, the Russians are weakening by the day.” Major John Spencer, retired US staff officer and expert on urban warfare, explains in an interview with FOCUS Online the reasons for his optimism about developments in the Ukraine war.

The military strategist also explains why he thinks nuclear attacks by the Russian president are unlikely – and why he continues to rely on the Ukrainians in the fighting in the east of the country, despite all the progress made by the Russians. He also reveals his assessment of Putin’s state of health. He describes the US $40 billion aid package as a “game changer”.

“The Russians are exhausting themselves more and more. They’re losing soldiers — and their willpower,” says Spencer. Following his 25 years in the US Army, he served as associate director for the Modern War Institute at America’s elite West Point Military Academy.

For the experienced war strategist, one thing is clear: “Putin has completely miscalculated in all areas. He miscalculated the number of soldiers as well as the numbers of his troops. The same is true of the Russians’ military equipment – and also their estimates of the speed of military operations.”

In addition, the head of studies on urban war strategies at the renowned “Madison Policy Forum” says: “I am counting on the superiority of the Ukrainians. From my point of view, you have an advantage. Because they are prepared, they have tailwind and they are developing more and more momentum.”

Spencer describes the evacuation of the majority of civilians from the Mariupol steel mill as historic: “These events at the Azovstal steel mill will go down in history – an almost unbelievable example of the strength of the Ukrainians.” According to new reports, 100 civilians are still in the tunnels under the steelworks.

In addition to Mariupol, Russian soldiers have again shelled the city of Odessa on Ukraine’s west coast. But Spencer is also confident about this: “Putin will never succeed in taking the port city. Odessa has an even better underground system than Kyiv – the tunnels under the capital are extraordinarily complex and very impressive. I consider a complete conquest of Odessa to be as good as impossible.”

At the beginning of the war, the strategist for urban warfare and urban warfare raved on Twitter about the sophisticated tunnel networks in many Ukrainian cities: “The underground is a powerful resource for any urban defender. Kyiv and many Ukrainian cities have extensive underground networks. Tunnels are excellent for evading bombing, storing weapons/supplies, surprise attacks on enemy forces.”

When asked whether the Russian President would go to extremes and launch nuclear attacks, Spencer answered largely optimistically: “Personally, I think that’s extremely unlikely. Putin certainly wants to remain the leader of Russia. And he knows that nuclear attacks would lead to a Third World War – and ultimately to its end.”

Regarding speculation about the state of health of the Kremlin boss, Spencer says: “Even if Putin were healthy – and he certainly doesn’t seem that way – the stress of the last few months would hit him hard. The constant bad news leads to sleep deprivation and further tension. These stresses take their toll. So if you now also assume that he is probably already ill anyway, you can only say: he is really not doing well.”

The military aid for Ukraine initiated by his American counterpart is likely to cause additional stress for the Russian President. On Thursday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion aid package. “I was really surprised by this sum – the amount exceeded my wildest expectations,” commented Spencer. “This is a groundbreaking aid package and will make a huge difference for Ukraine. There is only one word that comes to mind: game changer.”