Ukraine wiped out more than 90% of some Russia squads, claims expert

Russian army’s have ‘six to seven men’ says expert

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Russian forces, split into 100-man companies across the front line, have been left with just “six to eight” troops in certain areas as Ukraine’s sweeping counter-offensives have forced thousands to flee formerly occupied territory, according to an expert. Sean Bell, a retired air Vice-Marshal, explained that Russian documentation left behind by soldiers who were forced out of cities in the east and south of Ukraine showed that some of their units were down to “11 percent combat effectiveness”, while they were also suffering “massive morale and equipment losses”. While Putin last month mobilised hundreds of thousands of military reservists, Mr Bell added that these were not “stand-alone forces”, meaning that they lacked the “experience and leadership” to simply enter into the warzone without the help of pre-positioned soldiers. 

Mr Bell said: “In Bakhmut, Russia is actually trying to address its troop shortfall with the 300,000 reservists they have mobilised. But you cannot put these new forces in as stand-alone forces. They have no experience and no leadership. 

“So, they have to augment existing structures. Now, a classic structure for a military force would be a company, which is about 100 fighting men. 

“Some of the Russian companies are down to six to eight men left. That is the state of their military. So, a lot of these reservists will be going into that. 

“At Kharkiv, up to the north, when the Ukrainians liberated that, a lot of Russian documentation was left behind afterwards, and that exposed that some of their units were only at 11 percent combat effectiveness with massive morale and equipment issues.” 

Vladimir Putin addressed a conference in Moscow on Thursday during which he accused Western leaders of inciting the war in Ukraine. Such attempts at gaslighting have been frequent from the Russian leader and his cronies. 

He played down the prospect of a nuclear standoff, despite having made several threats previously suggesting otherwise, but said that Western dominance over world affairs was coming to an end and “ahead is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and, at the same time, important decade since the end of World War Two.” 

The Russian leader insisted Moscow’s war in Ukraine, which he still calls a “special military operation” was going to plan as both sides prepared for a key battle in Kherson in Ukraine’s south.

One of four partially occupied provinces that Russia declared annexed last month, the region controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula – seized by Russia in 2014 – and the mouth of the Dnipro river that bisects Ukraine.

Sergey Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed leader of Crimea, said work had been completed on moving residents seeking to flee Kherson to regions of Russia ahead of an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Ukraine has accused Moscow of forcibly removing some people and recruiting others to fight against their will. Its general staff said what it called Russia’s so-called evacuation was continuing, with hospital and business equipment removed and extra Russian forces deployed in empty homes.

Putin’s first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kiriyenko, visited Kherson and the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station earlier this week, Aksyonov said on Telegram.

In recent weeks, Russia has unleashed a wave of missile and drone strikes, hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and forcing power cuts in Kyiv and other places, officials said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday the attacks “will not break us”.

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“To hear the enemy’s anthem on our land is scarier than the enemy’s rockets in our sky. We are not afraid of the dark,” he said in a nighttime video address.

The attacks, as well as an unfounded Russian accusation made at the start of this week that Ukraine was planning to use a “dirty bomb” laced with radioactive material against them, are believed to be a reaction to the Ukraine Armed Forces successes in the last six weeks, regaining thousands of square kilometres of territory in the east and south. 

During Putin’s Moscow conference, he made no mention of Russia’s battlefield setbacks. When asked if there had been any disappointments in the past year, he answered simply: “No”.

Ukrainian officials have said tough terrain and bad weather have made Ukraine’s advances in Kherson and the east slower in the last week than its swift pushback of Russian forces in the northeast last month and Russia’s hasty retreat from Kyiv early in the war.

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