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Russia on verge of front collapse as Putin could surrender troops

Russia: 15,000 troops ‘could surrender’ says expert

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Ukrainian forces are making significant advances in their counteroffensive in Russian-controlled areas, with more than 2,485 square miles of territory reportedly liberated in the last week. Russian troops have been forced to retreat from both the north-eastern and southern fronts, as Ukrainian troops locked a substantial area east of the Oskil River in the Kharkiv region. As a result, Russian troops are left with limited options, which threatens to lead to a military collapse, a military analyst said.

Looking at the Ukrainian advances, Royal United Services Institute Research Fellow Ed Arnold told Sky News: “At the moment, it looks like approximately 15,000 Russian troops could in a couple of scenarios essentially be forced to surrender, which would be a strategic defeat for the Russians in the south.”

Given the “quick” rate at which Ukrainian forces are pressing in the east and north, Putin’s forces are left with very few options, he added.

“They could either move to Kherson in the southwest and try to get the protection of the city,” Mr Arnold said, adding these “are not really good options.”

“There’s already been eight towns liberated in the last 24 to 48 hours, the rate is very quick. And the rate of withdrawal from the Russian side is also incredibly quick.

“And when units have to withdraw under those circumstances, you need very good commanders to rally the forces.”

Looking at the situation in the east, Mr Arnold said Ukrainain troops are scoring fresh gains and are close to retaking the eastern cities of Svatove and Kremmina.

“Svatove and Kremmina is going to be very important in the route that links them, highway 66. That’s now in Ukraine’s artillery range. 

“They are around 30km (18 miles) away, so they can really disrupt Russian logistics, which has misfired from the start of the campaign.”

Putin’s forces are suffering serious setbacks on all fronts in the east and the south, according to the latest British Intelligence report, with Ukrainian troops at striking distance from the key Statove-Kremina road in the Luhansk province.

Attacks on that road would deal a major blow to Russian forces’ capacity to resupply its units in the east, the reports adds. 

The new counter offensives in the region bring Ukrainian troops a step closer to the Luhansk province – one of the four Ukrainian provinces Putin illegally annexed to Russia. 

The UK’s Defence Intelligence reported: “Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that the leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed  to have formally annexed last Friday.”

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In response, the Kremlin has said the Russian military retreats do not affect the annexation plans. 

“They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Upping the ante, Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian troops to take control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in Zaporizhzhia, one of the four regions in Ukraine that he has annexed. 

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is now on the territory of the Russian Federation and should be operated under the supervision of our relevant agencies,” Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported quoting deputy foreign minister Sergei Vershinin.

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