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Russia has one of the world’s largest armies, but a new report says the conflict in Ukraine – which is estimated to have cost in the region of 30,000 Russian lives – could force its collapse.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin reportedly believes that the “blood sacrifice” of all those young men, along with over 200 warplanes destroyed, around 174 helicopters, 1,349 tanks and 13 boats is a “price worth paying” for the control of Ukraine.
But as his ambitions have had to be scaled down in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance, Russian military leaders are increasingly unsure what the sacrifice has been for and troops' morale is sinking.
Bruce Jones, an expert on Russian intelligence and military affairs, told The Mirror: “There has to be a point when Russian forces cannot take any more losses, a cut-off point.
“This would be a straw that broke the camel’s back moment, where units would no longer be able to function as a fighting force because they are so depleted."
The secret report seen by senior UK government officials and written by a top UK analyst, was obtained by the Mirror.
It says that: “Russia ’s attempt to achieve a speedy and decisive victory in the Donbas has not yet succeeded. They are still grinding forward, gaining 1-2km a day.
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“The Russians are now achieving what successes they have mostly by means of a slogging match with repeated, very costly, infantry attacks reminiscent of 1945 not 2022," the report says.
“The gross failures of the campaign Putin has so far been able to hide quite well from the Russian public, or to blame on various officials, who have been arrested and replaced.
“The Russian population until recently bought Putin’s disinformation. We have seen an attempt within the Kremlin to get a message across to Putin and his closest team that things are going wrong, perhaps even catastrophically wrong."
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Russian forces, now largely withdrawn from other areas of Ukraine in order to bring maximum firepower on the Donbas region, could achieve a breakthrough in the largely Russian-speaking region.
If they do, might be enough for Vladimir Putin to claim a “victory” to withdraw his troops from the rest of Ukraine – ending a conflict that has killed some 30,350 of his troops and tens of thousands of Ukrainians.
Sievierodonetsk, the province’s largest city, has been under intense bombardment from Russian artillery for days.
Witnesses say that Russian tanks are advancing towards the centre of the city, blasting everything in their path to smithereens.
According to the Luhansk regional governor, Serhiy Gaidai the Russian army “use the same tactics over and over again. They shell for several hours – for three, four, five hours – in a row and then attack. Those who attack die. Then the shelling and attack follow again, and so on until they break through somewhere.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Capturing Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers.
“We are doing all we can to hold this advance.
“Some 90% of buildings are damaged. More than two-thirds of the city’s housing stock has been completely destroyed.”
Russia announced that the focus of its “special military operation” was now to seize the entire Donbas region.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said the “liberation” of the Donbas was an “unconditional priority” for Moscow.
- Russia Ukraine war
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