Russia is preparing for a prolonged fight in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin’s forces are reinforcing their troops in the eastern provinces of Ukraine in preparation “for future offensive operations”, the British Ministry of Defense said Saturday.
“Despite President Putin’s assertion on July 7, 2022 that the Russian military has ‘not even started’ its efforts in Ukraine, many of its reinforcements are ad hoc task forces, deployed with obsolete or inappropriate equipment” , statement said.
The intelligence assessment came amid growing reports of Russian soldiers and potential recruits seeking to avoid conflict.
Danila Davydov, a 22-year-old artist from St. Petersburg, said he left Russia shortly after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, fearing he would be conscripted.
“I didn’t want to go to war or go to jail, so I decided to leave,” Davydo told Reuters from Kazakhstan. “I love Russia and miss it a lot.”
Lawyers and human rights groups in Russia say cases like Davydo’s are on the rise and more Russians are seeking to avoid war as the Russian military suffers heavy losses. Russia last updated its official death toll in Ukraine in late March, when it said 1,351 soldiers had died. Ukraine and the Western Allies put the toll much higher, potentially more than 10 times that figure.
Military service in Russia is compulsory for ages 18 to 27, and the penalty for dodging can include fines and up to two years in prison. While Putin insisted that ordinary Russians would not be drafted into the conflict, the country’s defense ministry said such conscripts had already been called up.
Russia has launched a series of punitive missile attacks against Ukraine in recent weeks, with barrages lasting several hours. The US military estimates that between 10 and 15 Russian military battalions are currently operating in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
Meanwhile, in England, the government announced a new military program that would train 10,000 Ukrainian troops inside the UK.
“This ambitious new training program is the next step in the UK’s support of Ukraine’s armed forces in their fight against Russian aggression,” Ben Wallace, the country’s defense secretary, said in a press release. “Using the world-class expertise of the British military, we will help Ukraine rebuild its forces and step up its resistance as it defends its country’s sovereignty and its right to choose its own future.”
In the United States, President Biden has said he will offer an additional $400 million in US aid to Ukraine, including four advanced rocket systems that defense officials say will enable Ukraine to strike deep behind Russian lines in the east of the country. The package also includes 1,000 155 millimeter artillery rounds.
The aid, approved Friday afternoon, was the 15th such military package sent from the United States to Ukraine since last August, The Washington Post reported.
Although Russia’s initial war aims have diminished considerably, they have made considerable progress in Donbass and currently control much of the region. President Biden has pledged to help Ukraine achieve victory.
“I don’t know how it’s going to end, but it won’t end with Russia defeating Ukraine in Ukraine,” he said last week.
With post wires