Vladimir Putin’s troops being ‘ritually humiliated’ in Ukraine, say western officials

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
Vladimir Putin’s troops being ‘ritually humiliated’ in Ukraine, say western officials
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Vladimir Putin’s troops are being “ritually humiliated” in Ukraine after his “strategic blunder” to invade the country, western officials said on Thursday.

The Russianpresident is believed to be seeking some progress in his military campaign which he can declare as a victory on May 9.

The day is a key date in the Russian military calendar as it marks the Nazis’ surrender in the Second World War and an annual parade is held through Moscow’s Red Square.

A western official said: “It is a reasonable view to suggest that if President Putin is going to stand on May 9 Victory Day, he will want to do so on the back of Russian forces not being ritually humiliated in Ukraine which is pretty much what has been happening so far.

“So, I think that may have been a factor in that decision, politically, to commit their forces into the Donbas, perhaps ahead of that force being entirely reconstituted and prepared.”

He added: “What we are seeing is that Russian forces are largely being fed in piecemeal into this fight rather than being held back but there are still forces that are posturing, rebuilding in areas. There are still forces being reconstituted.

“There is a choice for the Russian forces. They have chosen to feed their forces in in a relatively piecemeal way.

“That may also explain why they are not having significant, dramatic effect.

“They are taking relatively small amount of terrain at the moment and frankly operations are pretty limited.”

As the Kremlin steps up its campaign to secure more territory in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine to make up for setbacks in Kyiv and the north of the country, the official warned Russia could yet make significant gains which could be counted as a “win”.

But they said the western response to the invasion meant that whatever territory Russia secures in the coming weeks and months, the Kremlin’s would have failed in its broader strategic objectives.

“Even in the event that it were to secure objectives you could describe as a win this has been a strategic blunder by Russia,” the official said.

“The Russians have concentrated sufficient force such that if they were to use it intelligently they might be able to surround and destroy a very significant proportion of Ukraine’s armed forces and make territorial gains which would be very difficult to dislodge.

“In a really worst case scenario they might be able to look again at whether they could revisit some of their pre war objectives potentially renew an attack on Kyiv or to attempt to take Odesa and deprive the rest of Ukraine from access to the sea.

“Any one of those things could be described as a success; consolidating his control over the Donbas, the whole of the Oblasts, Crimea and the land bridge between them could be seen to be a success and I think that is still something that is potentially within reach if the Russians are successful in their campaign in the Donbas.

Warning that the war could last for the rest of the year, the official added: “It won’t be likely to be rapid, but if they were to surround those forces and grind them down over time that would be enough for Putin to be able to claim it as a win.

“Even if Putin were able to secure a respectable set of objectives inside Ukraine it’s very hard to see how Russia will have succeeded strategically as a result of this intervention. It’s already accumulated significant losses and it’s inconceivable it won’t suffer more. It’s united the opposition against them, it’s led to really significant changes in the European security architecture…all of these are very much contrary to Russia’s strategic interests.”

Russian troops have been forced to retreat from around Kyiv and the north of Ukraine after Mr Putin’s lightning invasion plan floundered.

His forces have suffered heavy losses, with fatality estimates ranging from around 10,000 to more than 20,000, though the latter may be an exaggeration.

The number of injured or incapacitated Russian forces is estimated to be three to four times higher.

Tens of thousands of civilians are also feared to have been killed since the invasion started on February 24, including some executed in Russian war crime atrocities.

Thousands of Ukrainian military personnel have also died.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting