Ukraine: Putin agrees to meet President Zelensky for talks
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As the war approaches its fifth week, Russia’s army continues to be plagued by logistical problems and poor tactics. Discipline among the rank and file appears to be breaking down at alarming rates, as soldiers down weapons and head back home. The latest analysis by Ukraine’s General Staff paints a grim picture of a Russian army barely holding itself together.
In an update to its Facebook page, the General Staff claimed that Russian soldiers were deserting, stealing cars and dressing up in civilian clothes, before heading to the Belarusian border.
They wrote: “Cases of deserting among the personal squad of the occupation forces continue to be constant.
“In the area of the settlement of Gavron region Makarivsky district of Kyiv region, a group of Russian soldiers stole the cars of local residents, dressed in looted civilian clothes and left towards the border with the Republic of Belarus.”
Further cases of insubordination were reported amongst soldiers attached to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Naval officers have been forced to replace 130 insubordinate soldiers in the 810th Naval Infantry Brigade with paratroopers from the 7th Airborne Assault Division.
Ukraine’s General Staff noted that the move was highly likely to cause greater unit cohesion problems.
The Russian army is also facing massive problems in repairing and replacing damaged equipment.
“Occupation troops operating in Ukraine feel the urgent need for repair and restoration of damaged weapons and military equipment,” they said.
They added that the Russians were increasingly being forced to use “outdated and partially defective equipment” to replace combat losses.
Putin’s army has suffered huge casualties since the beginning of their invasion on February 24.
Ukrainian estimates say as many as 14,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in combat so far.
US officials have said they believe the number to be around half of this.
On Monday, a pro-Kremlin tabloid was leaked figures for the Russian dead from a source inside the Ministry of Defence.
Komsomolskaya Pravda claims official figures showed 9,861 Russian soldiers had been killed with over 16,000 injured.
The last official death toll published by Moscow on March 2 showed a count of just 498 killed in action.
The Russian army is by all accounts struggling to replenish its units with fresh troops.
Ukraine’s Military Intelligence (GUR) said on Sunday Russia’s Defence Minister signed an order allowing the deployment of cadets from the Russian Youth Army (Unarmiya) to the front in Ukraine.
The ranks of the Kremlin-run military youth organisation are filled typically by 17-18-year-olds.
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Ukraine’s General Staff also said that the Russians were forcibly drafting university students from the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic – areas controlled prior to the war by pro-Moscow separatists.
In its latest analysis of Russia’s military campaign, the Institute for the Study of War said that Putin’s army had failed to make any major advances on Sunday.
They noted: “Russian forces around Kyiv are increasingly establishing defensive positions and preparing to deploy further artillery and fire control assets.
“Ukrainian forces repelled continuing Russian efforts to seize the city of Izyum, southeast of Kharkiv, and Russian forces did not conduct any other offensive operations in northeast Ukraine.
“Russian forces continue to make slow but steady progress on Luhansk Oblast and around Mariupol., but did not conduct any offensive operations towards Mykolayiv or Kryvyi Rih.”
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