Putin ‘wants a break’ as Russian supplies into Donbass cut off

Putin ‘wants a break’ says Philip Ingram

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Russian forces which have withdrawn from the southern region of Kherson have now been repositioned to hold ground in the Donbass region. Moscow’s troops in Donetsk are understood to be struggling to maintain their grip over the east as the Kremlin’s military has consistently lacked proper training and modern weapons supplies. Ukrainian troops are challenging Russia’s presence along the P66 highway, which has served as a vital line of communication for Vladimir Putin’s military. Amid the ongoing military difficulties, Vladimir Putin is reported to be seeking a “break” in the conflict in a bid to strengthen the capability of Russia’s armed forces.

Former senior military and intelligence officer Philip Ingram told Sky News: “We’ve had reports that the troops that were freed up from Kherson have come across the Dnipro River and moved up into the Donetsk region, which is where the Russian main effort seems to be. 

“There has been very heavy shelling, a lot of fighting trying to capture the whole of the Donetsk Oblast and, in particular, around the village of Bakhmut – the Russians not having much success in it. 

“They are also building their defences there and they are building their defences further north near Kreminna but the Ukrainians are attacking into the Svatove-Kreminna line.”

Mr Ingram continued: “There’s a road running down there from Russia and that is important, that’s a line of communication that the Russians need to get ammunition and other supplies from Russia down to the troops in the Donbass region.

“Remember the bridge into Crimea has been severely hampered, if not cut [off], so the Russians are having difficulty in getting supplies into the troops that are there.”

The combined road and rail bridge connecting Russia to annexed Crimea was severely damaged in an explosion at the beginning of October which saw the bridge partially collapse into the sea.

Mr Ingram added: “Putin wants a break. Zelensky and the Ukrainians have got the momentum at the moment and we’re waiting for them to decide where they are going to carry out their next counter-offensive.”

On Monday, the UK Ministry of Defence reported that Russian forces in the Donbass region were “hampered by severe shortage of munitions and skilled personnel”.

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The analysis follows several earlier reports which indicated Moscow’s troops had been operating with poorly-maintained Soviet-era weapons.

Furthermore, reserve forces enlisted under President Putin’s earlier partial mobilisation decree are understood to have received minimal training ahead of their deployment, making the additional soldiers less effective on the battlefield.

The UK Ministry of Defence suggested: “Commanders are likely struggling with the military realities of maintaining a credible defence, while also attempting to resource offensive operations further south in Donetsk.”

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Conflict analysts have suggested the war will likely enter a form of temporary stalemate over the winter months as the fierce weather conditions will prevent developments on the frontline.

Mr Ingram told Sky News: “Winter is having an effect. The ground is very boggy and the first snow is in – it’s that boggy ground that stops the armoured formations from manoeuvring properly and is better for the defenders. 

“The Russians are digging in to defend but that’s all they can do with their poorly trained reservists that are there.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine has been strengthened by the provision of extensive Western equipment which has proved to be more modern than the Kremlin arsenal. As the terrain becomes more challenging over the winter period, this elite equipment is likely to prove particularly valuable should Ukraine push on with counter-offensive operations.

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