Panicked Russian troops retreat to nine miles from border as Putin’s Plan B crumbles
Ukraine: Russian troops pushed to '9 miles from border'
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Russian forces have been pushed back to within just nine miles from its own border, as Vladimir Putin’s forces are on the brink of “total collapse”. CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh, reporting from Kharkiv after a Russian retreat, said that the military “reset” of the invasion three weeks ago has already unravelled. He reported that “momentum is on Ukraine’s side” as Russia struggles to keep ahold of its initial positions.
Earlier this week, Russian troops withdrew from Ukraine’s second-biggest city, Kharkiv, and back towards the Russian border.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, said Ukraine “appears to have won the Battle of Kharkiv”.
It added: “Ukrainian forces prevented Russian troops from encircling, let alone seizing Kharkiv, and then expelled them from around the city.”
CNN’s International Security Editor said: “Kharkiv is free because of a successful Ukrainian counter-attack to push Russian forces back towards their own border.
“A couple of days ago, we were within just nine miles of the Russian border. It’s that deep that Ukraine has managed to push back.”
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He said that the victory in Kharkiv meant Ukraine could focus its troops on eastern Ukraine, adding: “The question is how far can Ukraine push east.
“And whether they can disrupt that supply line. That would be a phenomenal blow for the Russians in the Donbas.
“I mean, here we are, three weeks into Russia’s reset of its invasion and the south has seen very little change.
“The east has seen incremental change and the here in the north has just seen a Russian retreat.
“When will Russia begin to get control of its narrative or are we seeing a total collapse of the positions it held initially?”
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This comes as military experts on Russian state TV even admit that the country’s armed forces are facing a shortage of troops.
During a panel discussion on Russia-1 this week, one TV pundit Mikhail Markelov suggested President Putin recruit more troops from “economically depressed regions in Russia, places with high unemployment rates” and lure them into the military.
This military disaster for Russia was reiterated in the latest intelligence briefing from Britain’s Ministry of Defence, which claimed increasingly low morale among Russian forces meant advances are unlikely to accelerate over the next 30 days.
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The UK’s MoD also claimed Russia was suffering from critical shortages of bridging equipment and surveillance drones.
They added that Moscow has lost about a third of the ground combat forces deployed in February and had fallen “significantly behind schedule”.
The intelligence briefing read: “Despite small-scale initial advances, Russia has failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition.”
BBC’s Joe Inwood, reporting from Lviv, said the latest MoD briefing of Russian losses was “extraordinary”.
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