Putin’s forces will continue to ‘level towns and cities’, UK warns

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Service members of pro-Russian troops in the city of Lysychansk (REUTERS)
Service members of pro-Russian troops in the city of Lysychansk (REUTERS)

Vladimir Putin’s forces will continue to “level towns and cities” as they continue their slow advance through the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, British military chiefs warned on Tuesday.

In its daily intelligence update on the conflict in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence said that Russia’s capture of the key strategic city of Lysychansk at the weekend meant it was now in a position to step up its assault on the neighbouring Donetsk region.

But the British defence chiefs said the relatively rapid breakthrough in Lysychansk - which has given President Putin control of virtually all of the Luhansk region of the Donbas - was unlikely to change the way Russia’s troops were fighting the conflict.

“The battle for the Donbas has been characterised by slow rates of advance and Russia’s massed employment of artillery, levelling towns and cities in the process,” the MoD said on Tuesday.

“The fighting in Donetsk Oblast will almost certainly continue in this manner.”

The MoD said Russia’s success in capturing Lysychansk had allowed Putin to “claim substantive progress against the policy objective it presented as the immediate purpose of the war, namely “liberating’ the Donbas”.

It added that better co-ordination between two groupings of Russian forces commanded by General-Colonel Alexandr Lapin and General Sergei Surovikin had helped the Kremlin’s forces make progress.

But the MoD also said Ukraine’s forces had “likely largely withdrawn in good order, in line with existing plans”.

On Monday night Ukraine’s President Volodymr Zelensky issued another message of defiance, insisting his troops would continue to fight for the “future of the Ukrainian people”.

"The Armed Forces of Ukraine respond, push back and destroy the offensive potential of the occupiers day after day," President Zelensky said in his nightly video message.

"We need to break them. It is a difficult task. It requires time and superhuman efforts. But we have no alternative.”

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