It is “increasingly apparent” that Russia’s winter offensive has “failed” in Ukraine, according to the British Defense Ministry.
Russian troops are reported to have suffered tens of thousands casualties in attacks in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, with a particular focus on the symbolically important city of Bakhmut, in recent months.
Putin’s generals are under increasing pressure to achieve a victory following Ukrainian victories around Kharkiv and Kherson in September and November 2022. The Ukrainian military is believed to be gathering forces, including modern armor donated by the powers westerners. for a next counteroffensive.
The latest update from the UK Ministry of Defense, released on Saturday, summed up Moscow’s progress since General Valery Gerasimov took over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in January, replacing Sergey Surovikin.
It reads: “On January 11, 2023, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff (CGS), General Valery Gerasimov, assumed personal command of the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
“Gerasimov’s tenure has been characterized by an effort to launch a general winter offensive with the aim of extending Russian control over the entire Donbas region. Eighty days later, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this project has failed.”
The Russian assault on Bakhmut has been carried out by both regular Russian forces and troops from the Wagner mercenary group, many of them recruited directly from the prison. On Wednesday, General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the battles around Bakhmut as a “Killing Feast for the Russians”.
The British intelligence update continued: “In various axes along the Donbas front, Russian forces have made only marginal gains at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties, largely wasting their temporary advantage on personnel gained from the ‘partial mobilization’ of the fall.
“After ten years as Chief of the General Staff, there is a realistic chance that Gerasimov is pushing the limits of how far Russia’s political leadership will tolerate failure.”
news week has contacted the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries for comment by email.
On March 25, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington DC-based think tank, said that Russian industry is being “hopelessly outgrown” for Western support for Ukraine.
It said: “The balance of generally available resources and industrial capacity tilts decisively towards the West.
“russian military industrial potential is, in fact, hopelessly outpaced by Western military-industrial potential.”
On the same day, President Putin said that Russia produce and upgrade more than 1600 tanks for the next three years, although ISW ruled it out due to Russia’s “limited industrial capacity”.
The think tank also estimated that Moscow will need to produce another 1,350 tanks over the next nine months, just to keep its stocks at current levels.