Vladimir Putin visits wounded Russian soldiers in Moscow hospital
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Russia’s war plan has surprised many experts since the invasion of Ukraine began in February. Many feared that Moscow’s men could sweep through the country in a matter of days, taking the capital Kyiv and asserting Russian influence over Ukraine. But the Ukrainian defence has meant that Russia only controls one city – Kherson – and has been forced to shift its focus to the east after failing to take the capital city. While Russia has intensified its violence in the east, Dr Neil Melvin, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, that the Russian invasion is “losing momentum.”
He said: “While they (the Russians) are making progress on the ground, it is within a very small set of objectives. They are gradually losing momentum I would say.
“Even within these small goals, Russia is eventually running out of steam in terms of resources and man power.”
Dr Melvin believes the Russians are “exhausted” because the Kremlin is unable to mobilise more troops.
He continued: “The Russians have now been in the field since February 24, so their units are gradually becoming exhausted.
“They haven’t launched a general mobilisation so they haven’t got the troops to bring in.
“So they are really just working with the resources they had at the beginning of the war.
“At some point those are going to be exhausted.”
He also believes that Ukrainians in the east will put up a tough fight as they have been defending the Donbas and Luhansk regions since 2014.
He added: “The second factor is that they have switched their attention to the Donbas, but this region is where the best Ukrainian forces are.
“They are heavily dug in, they are prepared for a Russian attack.
“So what the Ukrainians are doing is they are giving territory slowly, pulling back, swapping territory for time.
“The balance will then shift from the Russians to the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians will then bring their 900,000 troops to the front and their new weapons to launch their own counter-offensive.”
According to independent news source Meduza, Russia is planning a “full-scale victory in Ukraine by autumn” and may again try to take the capital city of Kyiv.
The Russians have begun to make some advances in the east –the besieged Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk appears to be almost completely surrounded by attacking Russian forces.
The governor of Luhansk said: “The Russians are pounding residential neighbourhoods relentlessly.”
One thing that has been key in helping Ukraine defend itself is lethal aid from the west.
But Russia has now warned NATO countries against supplying Ukraine with weapons capable of hitting Russian territory.
Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said doing so would be a “serious step towards unacceptable escalation”.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba pleaded with Western nations to provide Kyiv with heavy weapons.
He said: “If you really care for Ukraine, [send] weapons, weapons and weapons again.”
Dr Melvin added that Russia could try and stop supply lines into Ukraine by striking in NATO territory.
He said: “There is of course this escalation concern, that the war between Ukraine and Russia could escalate into a wider conflict.
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“NATO has been very clear in essentially applying what were the Cold War rules between the Soviet Union and the US – that the bottom line is you don’t fight each other’s troops directly.
“So NATO has said it won’t have its troops inside Ukraine and they have even tried to avoid grey areas like no fly zones.
“These are the established rules of the game, but we don’t know if the Russians are also understanding these rules in the same way. They have gradually increased their efforts to try and strike NATO supplies coming into Ukraine.
“At the moment they are only striking those supplies inside Ukraine, there is some concern that, especially if Russia starts to lose the war, that Russians will become more desperate and try to hit the supply lines inside NATO territory. It could be bases in Poland for example.
“That’s certainly a risk. At the moment it has been managed well but we will have to see how the war evolves.”
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