Insufficient combat infantry is hampering Russia’s efforts to make substantial advances in the key eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, UK defence chiefs claimed on Tuesday.
The latest Ministry of Defence assessment of Russia’s war in Ukraine came as Kyiv reported “constant” shelling in frontline towns around Donetsk city as the Kremlin intensifies efforts to achieve its key aim of seizing the eastern Donbas region.
The UK said Russia’s advance on the city of Bakhmut has been its most successful campaign in the region over the last 30 days, having advanced around six miles.
“In other Donbas sectors where Russia was attempting to break through, its forces have not gained more than 3km during this 30 day period; almost certainly significantly less than planned,” the update said.
“Despite its continued use of heavy artillery in these areas, Russia has not been able to generate capable combat artillery in sufficient numbers to secure more substantial advances.”
On Monday the Pentagon said Russia had suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since its invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
And reports emerged on Tuesday morning that Mr Putin has now lost at least 100 colonels in the war after video emerged of the grief-stricken family of Lt-Col Vitaly Tsikul, a tank commander, at his funeral.
The father-of-two, who served in the Russian 90th Tank Division, was accorded full military honours at his funeral which took place at an Orthodox Church in Chebarkul in the Urals.
It came as Ukrainian officials said Russian troops were launching waves of attacks as they try to seize control of the industrialised Donbas region.
“The situation in the region is tense - shelling is constant throughout the front line ... The enemy is also using air strikes a great deal,” Donetsk regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko told Ukrainian television.
“The enemy is having no success. Donetsk region is holding.”
Around Kharkiv in the northeast, Ukrainian troops captured the town of Dovhenke from Russian occupiers and were advancing towards Izium, Ukrainian Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said in a video posted on YouTube.
“The situation is very interesting. Ukraine’s forces are moving very successfully. Attempts by Russia to regain lost ground were not successful. Ukraine may end up encircling them,” he said.
In the southeast, the key Antonovskyi bridge over the Dnipro river in Kherson region was targeted again by Ukrainian forces trying to disrupt Russian supply lines.
Yuri Sobolevsky, deputy head of Kherson regional council ousted by Russian occupation forces, said on Telegram the bridge had been seriously damaged after “overnight actions”.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres early demanded UN inspectors be given access to Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power complex of its kind in Europe, called any attack on the plant “suicidal”.
Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for weekend attacks around the complex, which was seized by Russia’s invading forces in March but is still being run by Ukrainian technicians.
Meanwhile Washington announced it will send another $1billion in weapons to Ukraine, including long-range rocket munitions and armoured medical transport vehicles.