ladimir Putin’s army is being hampered in making “large scale offensive ground operations” in Ukraine by a shortage of munitions, British defence chiefs said on Friday.
They stressed that the Russian military’s withdrawal from Kherson in the south of the country last month had hit its supply lines, further undermining getting equipment to the frontline.
Ukranian forces were now better positioned to attack the supply routes of Putin’s army, they added.
In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence in London said: “Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication.
“This threat has highly likely prompted Russian logisticians to relocate supply nodes, including rail transfer points, further south and east.”
The briefing added: “Russian logistics units will need to conduct extra labour-intensive loading and unloading from rail to road transport. Road moves will subsequently still be vulnerable to Ukrainian artillery as they move on to supply Russian forward defensive positions.
“Russia’s shortage of munitions (exacerbated by these logistics challenges) is likely one of the main factors currently limiting Russia’s potential to restart effective, large scale offensive ground operations.”
Britain, the US, Ukraine and its allies are fighting an information war against Russia so their briefings need to be treated with caution, often focusing on losses by Putin’s troops, and rarely mentioning those suffered by Ukrainian forces.
However, they are far more believable than the propaganda issued by the Kremlin.
Around 100,000 Russian soldiers are estimated to have been killed or wounded during Putin’s nine-month war in Ukraine, with Volodymyr Zelensky’s military believed to have suffered a similar level of casualties.
Amid indiscrimate Russian shelling of towns and cities, around 40,000 civilians are also reported to have been killed.
Mr Zelensky vowed, in a video posted on Thursday night, that the will of the Ukrainian people will not be “broken”.
He stressed that December 1 was the anniversary of a referendum 31 years ago when Ukraine, then still part of the Soviet Union, voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence.
“Our desire to live freely … will not be broken. Ukrainians will never again be a tiny stone in some empire,” said Mr Zelensky.
Hours later in the early hours of Friday, Russian forces shelled a building in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia, setting it ablaze, city official Anatoly Krutyev said.
Putin has unleashed a wave of missile attacks to destroy key Ukrainian infrastructure, including electricity power stations, as his military campaign has floundered.
With winter biting, Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko on Thursday told residents to stock up on water, food and warm clothes in the event of a total blackout.
Russian artillery pounded Ukrainian positions in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut, and the regional capital of Kherson in the south, Ukraine’s General Staff said late on Thursday.
In Washington, US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron said in a joint statement after Oval Office talks that they were committed to holding Russia to account “for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies” in Ukraine.
Mr Biden said Washington and Paris “are facing down Vladimir Putin’s grasping ambition for conquest” and “defending the democratic values and universal human rights”.
The US president said he was prepared to speak with the Russian president “if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war,” but added that Putin “hasn’t done that yet”.
Mr Macron said he would continue to talk to Putin to “try to prevent escalation and to get some very concrete results” such as the safety of nuclear plants.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking during an annual news conference in Moscow, defended recent missile strikes, saying it was targeting Ukraine’s civil infrastructure to prevent Kyiv from importing Western arms.
He did not explain how such attacks, which have plunged millions of families into living in colder and darker conditions as winter hits, could achieve that aim.
In a sign some channels of communication remain open, Russia’s Defence Ministry and the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said the two countries swapped 50 service personnel on Thursday.
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