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Vladimir Putin’s army unlikely to make ‘significant advance for months’ in Ukraine, says UK


ladimir Putin’s troops are so bogged down in Ukraine that they are “unlikely to make operationally significant advances within the next several months,” British defence chiefs said on Monday.

They believe his generals are at the moment unable to put together “an effective striking force capable of retaking” territory lost to Ukrainian counter-offensives.

However, they think that Putin’s “minimum political objectives” remain to capture the whole of four Ukrainian provinces which he declared as being part of Russia, a move which has been widely condemned as illegal.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “On 8 December 2022, Russian presidential spokesman Dimitry Peskov rearticulated the main goals of the ‘special military operation’.

“He said that one of Russia’s main objectives was the ‘protection’ of residents of the Donbas and south-eastern Ukraine but claimed there was still much work to be done regarding ‘liberation’ of those territories.

“Peskov’s comments suggest that Russia’s current minimum political objectives of the war remain unchanged.

“Russia is likely still aiming to extend control over all of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson Oblasts (provinces). Russian military planners likely still aim to prioritise advancing deeper into Donetsk Oblast.”

But the update added: “However, Russia’s strategy is currently unlikely to achieve its objectives: it is highly unlikely that the Russian military is currently able to generate an effective striking force capable of retaking these areas.

“Russian ground forces are unlikely to make operationally significant advances within the next several months.”

Britain, the US, Ukraine and its allies are fighting an information war against Russia so their briefings need to be treated with caution but are far more believable than the propaganda issued by the Kremlin and the claims on Putin’s invasion being hit by a series of setbacks have been confirmed by other independent reports.

On the ground in Ukraine, the entire eastern front line in the Donbas region has been continuously shelled with heavy fighting taking place, according to the latest reports.

Russian forces continued with attempts to break through Ukrainian defences, training tank and artillery fire on 26 settlements near Avdiivka and Bakhmut, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a Sunday evening update.

Serhiy Gaidai, the exiled governor of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region, told Ukrainian television local forces had attacked a hotel in the town of Kadiivka where members of Russia’s private Wagner military group were based, killing many of them.

Photos posted on Telegram channels showed a building largely reduced to rubble.

“They had a little pop there, just where Wagner headquarters was located,” he said. “A huge number of those who were there died.”

The claims could not be independently verified and Russia’s defense ministry was not immediately available for comment.

Moscow is also targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone strikes, at times cutting off electricity for millions of civilians in winter, when temperatures often fall below zero Celsius.

Russian forces used Iranian-made drones to hit two energy plants in the Black Sea port of Odesa on Saturday, knocking out power to about 1.5 million people – virtually all non-critical infrastructure in and around the port.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said other areas experiencing “very difficult” conditions with power supplies included the capital Kyiv and Kyiv region and four regions in western Ukraine and Dnipropetrovsk region in the centre of the country.

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