Former US Army chief exposes ‘three things’ Putin needs to do in Ukraine war
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Vladimir Putin’s military forces have remained persistent in their bid to seize Ukraine despite a flood of dire issues facing the armed forces. Following the withdrawal of Moscow’s troops from the southern region of Kherson, Russian soldiers have regrouped in the east as part of a bid to retain their occupied territory within the Donbas region. As the fierce winter months threaten to complicate the terrain, retired US army officer Ben Hodges has outlined three vital areas Vladimir Putin needs to address if Russia is to continue the invasion effort.
Speaking to Times Radio, Lieutenant General Hodges reported on the structure of the Russian military command.
He explained: “You don’t get the impression that there is a coherent, functioning general staff where you’ve got people thinking strategy, operations, logistics, intelligence – all of those pieces. It’s a little clumsier than that.”
He continued: “As a good Ukrainian friend of mine told me, the Russians need three things: they need people, they need fuel and they need armour. Even if the quality of those things is not very good, they still have a lot of it.”
Lt. Gen Hodges suggested each of these aspects would be vital in retaining strong morale among the Kremlin’s armed forces and ensuring their offensive operations are delivered to a high degree.
Concerning the need for “people,” as outlined by the former US army officer, Vladimir Putin has attempted to expand the number of conscripts within the Russian army.
In September, a presidential decree called for an additional 300,000 reserve troops to be mobilised for Russia’s invasion.
Despite the increased number of troops, intelligence reports have suggested the vast majority of new Russian conscripts have received little to no combat training ahead of their deployment in Ukraine.
As a result, the UK Ministry of Defence has suggested the greater number of soldiers is unlikely to improve the quality of Russian military operations as many of the mobilised forces are low-skilled and inexperienced on the battlefield.
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While the mobilisation effort was intended to strengthen Russia’s army, in reality, the new soldiers have exacerbated existing equipment supply issues within the military.
Reports have emerged of Russian soldiers operating with poorly maintained Soviet weaponry and videos on social media have shown mobilised troops in possession of guns caked in rust and evidently ill-suited to the conflict.
Sam Cranny-Evans, a research analyst at The Royal United Services Institute, reported: “Irrespective of the number of brigades mobilised, some will be operating tanks that entered service when their grandfathers were conscripts.”
The equipment concerns are set to reach a new level with the winter closing in as Russian soldiers have not been afforded adequate thermal gear to cope with the fierce shift in weather.
Defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke has warned Moscow’s troops in Ukraine risk “freezing to death in the trenches,” if they do not receive more modern uniforms.
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The UK Ministry of Defence has highlighted that the organisation of Russian military forces appeared to have improved under the command of General Sergey Surovikin.
The new leader of the Russian forces in Ukraine was appointed in October and replaced General Gennady Zhidko, marking the third reported change in military leadership.
Despite this shift in authority, the Russian army was still forced to withdraw from Kherson, the only regional capital city they had been able to capture, under the threat of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
In wake of the retreat, Moscow has launched a renewed missile attack campaign, targeting civil infrastructure, notably the power grid, in a bid to damage Ukrainian morale.
This brutal shift in strategy has prompted the European Parliament to brand Russia a state sponsor of terrorism as the attacks on civilian buildings are considered a violation of international law.
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