ladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has become bogged down into “near operational standstill,” western officials said on Friday.
They stressed that the war had entered a new phase from earlier this year when Russian forces were heavily shelling areas across the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine and gradually seizing territory.
One western official said: “We are clearly at a moment of near operational standstill.
“At the moment, neither sides ground forces have sufficient concentrated ground combat power to launch effective offensive actions which would in any way materially affect the course of the war.
“For Russia this is probably partially due to them recognising a looming issue…around an increasingly acute shortage of stocks, even of quite basic munition types.”
Neither the Russian or Ukrainian air forces are believed to be having a “decisive effect”.
The western official added: “Russian continues to launch poorly conceived, long-range missile strikes which routinely have little effect beyond killing and wounding civilians.”
He claimed Russia’s Black Sea Fleet was now struggling to function as much more than a “coast defence flotilla which conducts occasional cruise missile strikes”.
He added: “This limits Russia’s campaign options and has especially stymied its ability to convincingly threaten an amphibious assault on Odesa.”
Ukrainian forces were also now “consistently achieving kinetic effects” deep behind Russian lines, with a series of attacks on air bases in Crimea which was annexed by Mr Putin in 2014.
Ukrainian special forces are throught to have been involved in some of the operations.
Russia had considered Crimea to be a “secure base area” with a “major role in enabling the occupation,” said the official.
“The incidents have been having a material effect on Russia’s logistics support, but as importantly there’s a significant psychological effect on the Russian leadership,” he added.
In one attack, more than half of the Black Sea Fleet’s naval aviation combat jets are believed to have been put out of action.
“The Russian system is busy seeking to allocate blame for the debacle,” he emphasised.
Having lost territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk eastern provinces to Russia, Ukrainian military chiefs are now preparing to launch a major counter-offensive in the south of the country to seize back lost ground after their successful attacks in Crimea.
“The question for the autumn is will Kyiv generate a credible counter-attack force to build on these…effects and really open up the campaign,” said the official.
However, he added: “The incidents in Crimea and the welcome prospects for a major Ukrainian counter-attack are not without strategic risk.”
Both the West and Ukraine, and Russia were “entering unchartered territory” with this stage of the war.
He also slammed the Kremlin for recent attacks on Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, in the east of the country.
It had recently suffered “one of its most painful periods” of the war, with at least 17 civilians killed by Russian strikes.
He warned this north eastern area of the country, close to the Russian border, risked becoming the “forgotten front of the war”.
The frontline there had been “largely static since May”.
He added: “Kharkiv has been one of the most persistently shelled large cities since the start of the invasion, partially because it remains within artillery range of Russian lines.”
It meant the city was one of the most difficult humanitarian situations in government-controlled areas of the country.
The official stressed: “This civilian suffering provides an unusually stark example of Russian cynicism.
“There is almost certainly no Russian plan to launch an offensive in this area or major operational advantage likely to be gained by the bombardment of what is largely a Russian-speaking city.”
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