Ministry of Defence says Russia relying on ‘poorly trained force’ as Kremlin seeks to consolidate gains
Russia’s defence minister said 82,000 conscripts had already been sent to Ukraine, reflecting what the west called a desperate effort to halt Kyiv’s counter offensive with poorly trained troops.
Sergei Shoigu told president, Vladimir Putin, that a further 218,000 were being trained in barracks, and that the controversial “partial mobilisation” had concluded, although it was not possible to verify the figures cited.
The meeting between the two was broadcast on Russian state television, with Shoigu telling Putin: “The task set by you of (mobilising) 300,000 people has been completed. No further measures are planned.”
The emergency draft began in September, after Ukraine won a string of victories in the north-west near Kharkiv, prompting some Russians to protest and others to flee the country. Dozens of conscripts have been killed after being thrown into the frontline to protect more experienced troops in the rear.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Friday that Russia was seeking to consolidate its existing gains after eight months of hard fighting by relying on “severely undermanned, poorly trained force” that were “only capable of defensive operations”.
But, despite the critical analysis, there are signs that the growing use of conscripts by Russia has slowed Ukraine’s advance in both the east and the south of the country, as the autumn turns towards winter.
Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the east Luhansk region, said “the advance of Ukrainian troops forward is not going as fast as we would like it to” in a television interview, because Russia has managed to recover its reserves and dig in.
Thousands of conscripts had been deployed in places such as Bakhmut, where Haidai said they were being killed or wounded quickly after being thrown into battle against dug-in Ukrainians. “The average ‘shelf life’ of mobilised personnel is about two weeks,” the governor added.
Ukraine’s general staff said on Friday that up to 1,000 Russian conscripts had been sent across the Dnipro River to fortify Kherson, demonstrating that the Kremlin is unwilling to give up the city without some sort of a fight. The troops would be billeted in homes belonging to residents who had fled the war.
A week ago it appeared that Russia feared losing the city and had relocated commanding officers across to the east bank of the river – and begun evacuating civilians, an exercise that Ukraine said amounted to forced deportations.
Early in October, Ukraine retook a number of villages close to Kherson, but earlier this week, Oleksii Reznikov, the defense minister, warned that the autumn rains had “slowed us down a bit” and that progress had become gradual.
The flat ground is cut by wide irrigation canals, some of which have been drained, but in either case are easily fortified, according to locals, making the terrain between the Ukrainian-held city of Mykolaiv and Kherson particularly challenging.
Since the beginning of time, Western military experts have predicted that fighting will slow down in November as heavy rains saturate the ground and make it more challenging for armored vehicles to travel off-road. It’s possible that the conflict won’t resume until the ground freezes in the dead of winter.
The tomb and remains of Prince Grigory Potemkin, who served as Catherine the Great’s chief minister and was also a lover, were removed from a Kherson cathedral and moved farther into occupied territory, according to the city’s Russian-appointed governor earlier this week.
Volodymyr Saldo reportedly stated, “We have relocated the remains of his serene highness Prince Potemkin from St. Catherine’s church and the monument itself to the left bank,” east of the Dnipro River.
Another Russian official declared that all residents of Kherson had been evacuated. Sergei Aksyonov, the Crimea’s newly appointed head appointed by Moscow, said late on Thursday after a visit to the region, “The work to organize residents leaving to the left bank of the Dnipro to safe regions of Russia is completed.”
Although that number is only a small portion of the 2,400 Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones that Kiev believes Russia has purchased from Tehran, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down more than 300 of them so far.
In October, Russia targeted Ukraine’s power plants and energy grid with the help of stealth drones. In many of the nation’s major cities, power blackouts, which aim to destabilize the energy supply, are now commonplace.
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, stated that the city’s power grid was operating in “emergency mode,” with electricity supplies being as much as 50% lower than they were prior to the war. Around the capital, four-hour blackouts have been announced.
The second-largest city in Ukraine and the region’s capital, Oleg Syniehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, announced on Telegram that daily one-hour power outages would start on Monday.
The latest Russian attacks, according to Ukraine’s presidential office, have resulted in at least four civilian deaths and ten additional injuries. Heavy shelling in the area of the southern city of Nikopol has caused extensive damage to numerous homes and power lines.
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