Russian state-controlled TV say World War 3 has started
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Victory Day, next month, will mark the 77th anniversary of the then-Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. According to author and economist Anders Aslund, whose work focuses on Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe, Putin desperately wants a triumph by then, which has led him to drive “his beaten troops to attack far too early”.
In Mr Aslund’s view, analysts are “overestimating Russia’s military might” and overlooking Ukraine’s achievement in the capital Kyiv, which it defended throughout a month of attempts by Putin’s forces to envelop it alongside other major cities.
The academic said: “Russia has only made minor improvements: One general in command, some (but not enough) concentration, better supply lines.
“Many count with the original Russian strength, ignoring Russia’s enormous losses.”
As per the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), around 15,000 Russian troops have been killed since the full-scale war began on February 24.
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Mr Aslund said of the losses: “Russia has not added many new troops, perhaps 10,000.
“Since this is not a ‘war’ but a ‘special military operation’, it is not legally desertion to refuse to join the army & young Russians are refusing in masses to fight.”
He added of the forces’ weakness on the battlefield: “The Russian soldiers are in foreign land, have no local knowledge & no goal (‘denazification”‘!?).
“They are a motley collection of third-rate soldiers who failed to refuse to come. The Ukrainians claim contemptuously that they do not know how to fight & just kill civilians.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons earlier this week: “Alongside the death toll are the equipment losses and in total, a number of sources suggest that to date over 2,000 armoured vehicles have been destroyed or captured.
“This includes at least 530 tanks, 530 armoured personnel carriers and 560 infantry fighting vehicles.
“Russia has also lost over 60 helicopters and fighter jets.”
Echoing Mr Wallace’s stark assessment of the state of Moscow’s military, Mr Aslund, a former Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, wrote on Twitter: “The Russian army has lost about half of all the hardware it deployed to Ukraine apart from the old Soviet heavy artillery, which is its only strong point.
“If it loses another third of the rest, it can hardly continue fighting.”
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The Defence Secretary, further commenting on Russia’s prospects of winning the war, added: “At the start of this conflict Russia had committed over 120 battalion tactical groups, approximately 65 percent of its entire ground combat strength.
“As of now, we assess around over 25 percent of these have been rendered not combat effective.”
Wednesday’s intelligence report by the MoD claimed the Kremlin had so far “failed” to take down Ukraine’s air defences in its battle for the Donbas, while “Ukraine continues to hold Russian air assets at risk”.
The analysis paints a bleak picture for Russia in its attempts to conquer Donbas, a “phase” of the fighting widely seen as a turning point in the war.
The report added: “Ukraine retains control over the majority of its airspace.
“Russia has failed to effectively destroy the Ukrainian Air Force or suppress Ukrainian air defences.”
On Thursday, however, as a large number of Russian warships and submarines made significant advances, the MoD warned: “Approximately 20 Russian Navy vessels are currently in the Black Sea operational zone, including submarines.
“The Bosporus Strait remains closed to all non-Turkish warships, rendering Russia unable to replace its lost cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea.
“Despite the embarrassing losses of the landing ship Saratov and cruiser Moskva, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet retains the ability to strike Ukrainian and coastal targets.”
Mr Aslund described Putin “remaining in command” as “Russia’s decisive disadvantage” – as it was for Germany with Hitler.
But the Kremlin’s efforts, not only on the military front, are far from over.
Pressure on the West is on the rise. The gas row, which is now seeing some EU countries’ energy supplies cut off, is a sign of how far the dictator is willing to go reach his goals.
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