Putin's forces may only be able to keep up fight for another 14 days

Putin's forces may only be able to keep up fight for another 14 days

March 15, 2022

‘Ukraine has Russia on the run’: Putin’s forces may only be able to keep up the fight for another 14 days, military experts say as increasingly-desperate invaders launch more devastating strikes on second city Kharkiv

  • Russian forces may only be able to sustain full fighting capacity for ten to 14 days, UK defence sources said
  • By that time, they may struggle to make any significant progress, as Russia continues its illegal invasion
  • Resistance to Russian onslaught by the Ukrainian troops has seen the barbaric invasion fall behind schedule

Russian forces may only be able to sustain full fighting capacity for another ‘ten to 14’ days, senior UK defence sources indicated last night.

By that time they may struggle to make any significant progress – while finding it difficult to hold ground, according to the latest intelligence.

Despite another day in which bombs rained down on Ukrainian cities including Kyiv and Kharkiv, resistance to the onslaught has seen the invasion fall behind schedule, allies of Vladimir Putin admitted for the first time on Monday. And American officials said the ground advance, now in its third week, had largely stalled. 

A senior UK source said last night: ‘Ukraine has Russia on the run. It is running out of manpower and running out of energy. As long as we keep pressing they’ve got ten to 14 days before reaching their culminating point

‘That’s when the strength of Ukraine’s resistance should become greater than Russia’s attacking force.’

Contradicting public claims by Moscow’s military that ‘everything is going according to plan,’ Russian National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov – once in charge of Putin’s personal security – admitted that ‘not everything is going as fast as we would like’.

But he still insisted Russia would achieve victory ‘step by step’.

The Kremlin also said it may still opt to take control of large cities in Ukraine, despite false claims the purpose of its ‘special military operation’ is to ‘liberate’ the country.

Russian forces may only be able to sustain full fighting capacity for another ‘ten to 14’ days, senior UK defence sources indicated last night. Pictured: A soldier walks in front of a destroyed Russian tank in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday

A view of burned tank is seen amid Russian-Ukrainian conflict in the city of Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on March 12

Firefighters work on a building destroyed by a Russian shell, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday 

Encircling Kyiv and other significant population centres such as Kharkiv and Chernihiv would improve Russia’s negotiating position and provide a scenario that Putin could try to present as a victory. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘The ministry of defence, while ensuring maximum safety of the peaceful population, does not rule out the possibility of placing under its full control major population centres.

‘Inevitably this could lead to a large number of casualties among civilians. US and European Union officials are pushing Russia towards storming major cities with a view to place responsibility for civilian deaths on our country.’ 

As attacks on the capital continued yesterday, Russian rockets claimed more innocent lives.

A local official said a town councillor for Bovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there. One person was also killed and six injured after the wreckage of an intercepted missile struck a residential street in Kyiv. The debris destroyed a bus and set an apartment building ablaze.

Residents were rescued by ladder from a burning apartment block in the Obolon district of Kyiv after it was destroyed by a Russian air strike that killed at least two people in the early hours of the morning.  

‘They say that he is too severely burned, that I won’t recognise him,’ sobbed Lidiya Tikhovska, 83, staring at the spot where a paramedic said the remains of her son Vitaliy lay.

‘I wish Russia the same grief I feel now,’ she said, tears rolling down her cheeks as she clung to her grandson’s elbow for support. 

As fighting and artillery fire raged in the suburbs, the Antonov aircraft factory six miles from Kyiv was also hit, sparking a large fire. Ukrainian authorities said two more people died and seven were injured after Russian forces struck the factory. 

Russian airstrikes also hit residential buildings in the eastern city of Kharkiv and near the important southern city of Mykolaiv. Explosions also rang out overnight around the Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Kherson. 

Ukrainian firefighters hold a photograph, found in the rubble, as they work in a resident building after it was hit by artillery shelling in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday

Russian airstrikes also hit residential buildings in the eastern city of Kharkiv and near the important southern city of Mykolaiv. Pictured: A destroyed building in Kharkiv on Monday

A satellite image shows a colored infrared view of fires burning near Fontanna street, Eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, on Monday

A Ukrainian firefighter appears to be engulfed in flames as his coworkers help to move him away from the fire in Kharkiv. The fire fighters were working to extinguish a fire at a building destroyed by a Russian shell on Monday

Last night, US defence sources said there was ‘an increasing amount of long range fires [air strikes]’ targeting Kyiv and other major cities but these population centres were ‘holding out’.

A Pentagon spokesman added: ‘They are continuing the bombardment and increasing that, no doubt about that.’ UK defence sources expect the Ukrainians to target Russian surface-to-air missile stations, electronic warfare sites and command and control networks.

These military assets are situated on the outskirts of Kyiv and other cities and could be targeted using drones supplied by Turkey. Russia’s attacks yesterday proved costly. The Ukrainians claimed they shot down four warplanes, three helicopters and numerous drones, inflicting what they called ‘devastating blows’ on the invaders.

Kyiv also claimed yesterday that Russian troops had made no major advances over the previous 24 hours – an assessment shared by US officials.

Russian troop losses in less than three weeks of fighting are thought to be as high as 12,000, according to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, dozens of British volunteer fighters who travelled to Ukraine to join the International Legion narrowly avoided being killed in a Russian missile strike on a military base which left dozens dead.  

The veterans who are fighting as part of the Ukraine International Legion narrowly escaped death during the attack on the Yavoriv base on Sunday. 

More than 30 Russian cruise missiles targeted the base, leaving a scene of devastation. The Ukrainian authorities said that 35 people had been killed, while the Russians said the attack had killed up to 180 ‘foreign mercenaries’.   

It comes after it was reported that three British former special forces soldiers had been killed in the same Russian airstrike 11 miles from the Polish border. 

Hundreds of western volunteers were stationed in a building close to the barracks which were destroyed during the airstrike.

The barracks at the International Peace Keeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv burns after being hit by a Russian missile strike in the early hours of Sunday morning – killing 35 people and injuring 134 more

Ukrainians carry their luggage after a residential building was damaged by Russian shelling in Obolon a neighborhood of Kyiv, on Monday

A source told the Sun: ‘A hundred yards difference you would be looking at hundreds of western casualties.

‘There were so many passports in there — British, Brazilian, Canadian, American, you name it.

‘It was like the Star Wars canteen. There were gun nuts, biker gangs, tough guys, American religious people there to do God’s work, war addicts.

‘One British guy was boasting that he’d killed someone in a bar fight.

‘Another Brit said he was a Royal Marine who wasn’t at liberty to disclose his rank or his unit — that’s a red flag right there.

‘There’s no vetting, there’s no command and control, no chain of command. It’s a complete sh*t show.’

The attack on the Yavoriv base, which has previously been used by Nato to train Ukrainian soldiers, was one of the western-most targets struck by Russia during the invasion.

The trio who are feared dead were not part of the foreign legion fighting unit being trained at the base six miles from the border, sources told The Mirror. 

It is not known which branch of the special forces they had served in.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia’s ministry of defence, said the base was struck by ‘long-range, high-precision’ weapons because it was hosting ‘foreign mercenaries and a large shipment of foreign weapons’. 

He added: ‘The destruction of foreign mercenaries who arrived on the territory of Ukraine will continue.’

Moscow has moved all of the 150,000 troops it had assembled before the invasion into Ukraine, the US confirmed last night. But following heavy losses, at least 10 per cent of this force has been eliminated, according to officials.

Russia and Ukraine kept a fragile diplomatic path open with a new round of talks Monday, even as Moscow’s forces continued to pound away at Ukrainian cities.  

The latest negotiations, held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the negotiators took ‘a technical pause’ and planned to meet again Tuesday.

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days. Mykhailo Podolyak, the aide to Zelenskyy, tweeted that the negotiators would discuss ‘peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.’

Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, produced no lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Monday that while the Biden administration supports Ukraine’s participation in the talks with Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin would have to show signs of de-escalating in order to demonstrate good faith.

‘And what we’re really looking for is evidence of that, and we’re not seeing any evidence at this point that President Putin is doing anything to stop the onslaught or de-escalate,’ she said.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm once again on the dangers of a possible showdown between atomic powers – a prospect ‘once unthinkable’ but ‘now back within the realm of possibility.’

And he warned the war already risked triggering a ‘meltdown of the global food system’ – with both Ukraine and Russia vital suppliers of wheat to dozens of the world’s least developed countries. 

Guterres called for peace last night, saying: ‘Ukraine is on fire.’ He told reporters: ‘The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world.

‘The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people – including women and children – have been killed.

‘After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins. According to the World Health Organisation, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity.

‘With each passing hour, two things are increasingly clear: first, it keeps getting worse.

‘Second, whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers.’ 

During its videoconference talks with Russian representatives, Ukraine said it was demanding ‘peace, an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops’.

A view shows a thermal power plant destroyed by shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in the town of Okhtyrka, in the Sumy region, Ukraine, on Monday

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Putin had ordered his forces ‘to hold back on any immediate assault on large cities because the civilian losses would be large’.

However he said Russia’s defence ministry ‘does not rule out the possibility of putting large cities, which are already almost fully encircled, under its full control’.

Russia’s forces had earlier focused on eastern and southern areas of Ukraine – home to more ethnic Russians – but in recent days have moved to the country’s centre.

But Russian troops have kept up their siege of southern Mariupol, where officials said more than 2,500 people have been killed.

But the Ukrainian military said on Monday night it had repelled yet another Russian attempt to take control of the strategic port city.  

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff said in a statement that Russian forces retreated after suffering losses.

Video emerged showing the moment a Russian armoured vehicle, which was marked with the notorious ‘Z’ sign, was obliterated by Ukrainian soldiers in Mariupol.    

Footage shows Ukrainian troops firing a series of shots at the armoured infantry fighting vehicle in the port city, leaving the Russian soldiers cowering behind it. 

The footage was filmed inside an armoured personnel carrier, where Ukrainian troops from the Azov Battalion unit could be seen looking at a video screen showing their targets going up in flames.

The Russian military has besieged the Azov Sea port city of 430,000 for a week and a half, leaving its residents desperate for power, water and food. More than 2,500 residents of Mariupol have been killed by the Russian shelling.

Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in televised remarks that Russian shelling on Monday thwarted another attempt to deliver food and medicines to the city.

A humanitarian convoy of 160 civilian cars left Mariupol after repeated failures to evacuate civilians because of Russian shelling.  

Video shows Ukrainian troops firing a series of shots at the armoured vehicle, which is marked with the notorious ‘Z’ sign, in the port city of Mariupol, leaving the Russian soldiers cowering behind it

Dramatic footage has emerged showing the moment a Russian armoured vehicle was obliterated by a Ukrainian soldiers

The Ukrainian troops opened fire on the Russian armoured vehicle in Mariupol

In Kyiv only roads to the south remain open, according to the Ukrainian presidency. City authorities have set up checkpoints, and residents are stockpiling food and medicine.

The northwestern suburb of Bucha is held by Russian forces, along with parts of Irpin, Ukrainian soldiers told AFP, although the Russians are encountering resistance east and west of the capital according to AFP journalists on the scene.  

Meanwhile, Moscow also admitted that a top spy has been killed in Ukraine, adding to a lengthening list of senior commanders that Putin has now lost.

Captain Alexey Glushchak, 31, is the first member of the feared GRU that Moscow has admitted losing during the conflict.

The foreign military intelligence agency was behind the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury as well as a number of assassinations around the world. Gluschak, a father-of-one from Tyumen, Siberia, was caught in the bombardment of Mariupol and killed while on a ‘top secret’ operation.

Ukraine claims to have killed three Russian major-generals out of about 20 thought to be in the country. In total, Putin has now lost a dozen of his top brass.

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