In the Ukraine war, Russian troops increasingly attack the Donbass region. However, the morale of Putin’s units is said to be in poor shape.
Munich — In the Ukraine conflict, the world’s attention is now focused on the areas in eastern Ukraine, the Donbass. After the offensive in northern Ukraine and, above all, the capture of the capital Kyiv failed, Russian troops are now focusing on this area. In addition, the civil infrastructure, such as in Kharkiv, continues to be attacked. This map shows where the Ukraine war is raging.
The goal: the complete conquest of the Ukrainian oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, which are currently partially occupied by pro-Russian separatists. However, the question now arises as to whether Russia still has the necessary strength for the desired goal after heavy losses in fierce fighting. In addition, doubts are raised about the soldiers’ morale, which is said to be less than ideal.
Ukraine war: Putin’s invasion focuses on Donbass – rapid depletion of Russia’s troops
When Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin announced what Moscow called a “special operation” in Ukraine on February 24, that invasion very quickly spread to all of Ukraine. Russian paratroopers landed around Kyiv in the first few days. The Kremlin hoped for a quick capture of the capital. However, the Ukrainian army was able to stand firm and, after bitter fighting, pushed back the Russian troops. Putin’s units withdrew from northern Ukraine.
However, the threat was far from banned, but rather transferred to another area. Now Russia is attacking the Donbass region. The major offensive expected by the West and Ukraine has been underway for a few days. “The battle for Donbass has begun,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on April 18.
But does Russia still have enough troops after the heavy clashes with the Ukrainian army? “Russia lacks the troops,” says Michael Kofman, military director at the US think tank CNA. The Russian units are “not well prepared” for a longer war, Kofman told the New York Times. The declining Russian combat strength is also confirmed by US security officials. Russia has lost a quarter of the strength available at the start of the invasion, a US official said at a briefing on Thursday (April 21). This would include both manpower and equipment.
|February 24th||100 percent|
|March 11||90 percent|
|March, 15||90 percent|
|March 22||89 percent|
|12. April||80 percent|
|April 19th||75 percent|
An important detail is that Russia cannot quickly replace the soldiers lost in Ukraine. Although the Russian army consists of more than a million soldiers, the 150,000 soldiers made available for the Ukraine war are said to be the entire available military. Joachim Weber, an expert on security policy at the University of Bonn, said on ntv that only a tenth of the soldiers in today’s armies would actually fight: “The other nine are responsible for things like combat support, repairs and maintenance, logistics and supplies.”
War in Ukraine: Putin’s troops sabotage their own equipment and lose motivation
While Russia may still have three quarters of the troops in Ukraine, the effectiveness of those troops is likely to be limited. Because according to reports from the region, the motivation and combat readiness of these units is almost in the basement. British intelligence reported around April 7 that Russian troops were struggling with supply line problems and declining motivation.
The head of the British intelligence agency GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters, Jeremy Fleming, said at the end of March that Russian soldiers were sabotaging their own equipment and refusing to obey their superiors. In addition, the Russian air defense itself shot down a Russian plane, which also had a severe impact on the morale of the troops.
The information also coincides with the assessments of the Ukrainian authorities. The Ukrainian military intelligence service reported that soldiers who had withdrawn from Kyiv refused to return to Ukraine for new battles due to the lack of bonus payments. In addition, there are also problems with destroyed, badly damaged or old equipment. All of this deals a serious blow to the morale of Putin’s troops.
War in Ukraine: Russia seeks troop replacements in breakaway regions – soldiers without experience
In order to continue to have good prospects of victory in Ukraine despite the increasingly precarious situation, Putin is increasingly resorting to recruits from the pro-Russian occupied areas of Luhansk and Donetsk as well as fighters from the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. At the end of March, the Ukrainian general staff said Russia had moved 150 people from South Ossetia to Crimea. Another report said that Russia had transferred a total of 2,000 soldiers from South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Ukraine and created new units.
Here too, however, it is questionable whether and to what extent these measures will actually bring fresh blood for the Russian invasion, since many of the fighters lack important experience. After all, according to US General Michael Repass, these troops have so far only been used in peacekeeping missions. In addition, the lack of coordination between the units is also likely to have a negative impact on Russian efforts. After all, the units stationed geographically in different places rarely took part in the same maneuvers and do not know each other. Incidentally, the same applies to the mercenaries of the Wagner group.
Despite the apparently difficult situation for the Russian army, the Kremlin insists that the “special operation” is going according to plan. Especially after the announced Western arms deliveries, which also include heavy weapons, a much bleak overall picture could emerge for Russia in Ukraine. In Germany, too, there is a debate about the delivery of heavy weapons. (bb)
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