In the face of Russia’s weak “force generation capabilities”, the Kremlin is turning to desperate strategies in hopes of bolstering its troops. The US-based Institute for the Study of War quoted the Security Service of Ukraine (ISW) (SBU) as saying that authorities in the rebel Luhansk region were “arranging gas leaks in apartment buildings to force the men who are hiding from the mobilization” to fight.
The ISW wrote in an assessment of the conflict on Wednesday: “Members of the Russian military community continue to comment on deficiencies in Russian force generation capabilities, which have tangible impacts on the morale and discipline of Russians fighting in Ukraine.
“Russian blogger Yuri Kotyenok claimed that Russian troops lacked the numbers and strength to succeed in combat in Ukraine.
“Kotyenok accused the Russian leadership of deploying under-trained new recruits and called for force replenishment with well-trained recruits with ground infantry experience – although the Russian military is unlikely to be able to to quickly generate such force.
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Despite the report, which focuses on Moscow’s struggles, Vladimir Putin’s men are making significant inroads in Luhansk.
On Thursday, regional governor Serhiy Haidai said a “massive” Russian bombardment in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk had been “hell” for Ukrainian soldiers.
He said, “The Russian army is… destroying everything.
The withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from these, which are the last two Ukrainian-held towns in Luhansk, would bring Moscow closer to one of its main war objectives, namely to capture this entire region.
Mr Haidai insisted the defenders would resist “as long as necessary”.
He said, “Our boys are holding their positions.”
The Kremlin has avoided detailing its victims for months. However, the human rights ombudsman of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic said last week that 2,128 of his forces had been killed and 8,897 injured. Another 654 civilians were killed, said Daria Morozova
According to the ISW, Moscow’s “coercive” recruitment measures are not sufficient in the context of its invasion ambitions.
He said: “Despite growing calls for increased recruitment of nationalist figures, Russian leaders continue to carry out coercive partial mobilization efforts that produce only a limited number of replacements.”
But even though undermanned, the fighting turned into a bloody war of attrition.
Oleksiy Arestovych, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Wednesday that the conflict was “entering a kind of dreadful climax”.
The latest developments in eastern Donbass reflect its harsh assessment.