Demoralised Russian troops could be encircled in areas near Kyiv and Ukrainian forces have “probably” retaken a key gateway town to the capital, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The intelligence briefing adds further fuel to reports of a floundering Russian invasion after Nato estimated that Moscow had lost as much as a fifth of its combat forces a month into the war.
Other key developments:
- President Zelensky made an impassioned plea last night for citizens worldwide to take to the streets for a global protest against the Russian invasion.
- Russia is likely now looking to mobilise its reservist and conscript manpower, as well as private military companies and foreign mercenaries, to replace its “considerable losses”.
- At least 264 civilians, including four children, have been killed in Kyiv since the start of the conflict, the city’s mayor has said.
- The US State Department said Russia has begun expelling more diplomats from the US embassy in Moscow and has delivered a list of officials who are now “persona non grata”.
- The White House has assembled a team of national security experts to draw up plans for how to respond if Putin unleashes chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, according to The New York Times.
The Ministry of Defence has said that Russia could begin mobilising reservists, conscripts, and mercenaries in a bid to replace its “considerable losses”, as the Kremlin marked one month since its invasion of Ukraine.
“Russian forces have almost certainly suffered thousands of casualties during their invasion of Ukraine,” the ministry said in a new intelligence report this morning.
“Russia is likely now looking to mobilise its reservist and conscript manpower, as well as private military companies and foreign mercenaries, to replace these considerable losses,” it said.
“It is unclear how these groups will integrate into the Russian ground forces in Ukraine and the impact this will have on combat effectiveness,” the report added.
A senior Nato military official said Russia has lost between 7,000 and 15,000 soldiers in Ukraine and up to 40,000 have been killed, wounded, taken prisoner or are missing.
The figures, if correct, would support western assessments that President Putin’s invasion has fallen far short of expectations and the Ukrainian resistance has proven significantly stronger than expected.
In its latest intelligence update the MoD said Ukraine was ratcheting up the pressure on Russian forces northeast of Kyiv and Putin’s troops were already grappling with “considerable supply and morale issues”.
Ukraine has “probably” retaken Makariv and Moschun, towns on the outskirts of Kyiv. Makariv is a key gateway to the capital which could be used by the Russians to surround and seize Kyiv, a goal which has so far eluded the invaders.
The MoD said there was a “realistic opportunity” that Ukrainian forces might now be able to encircle Russian units in Bucha and Irpin, which are also near Kyiv.
The intelligence update added: “It is likely that successful counterattacks by Ukraine will disrupt the ability of Russian forces to reorganise and resume their own offensive towards Kyiv.”
Last night President Zelensky made an impassioned plea in English for citizens worldwide to take to the streets for a global protest against the invasion.
The defiant but exhausted leader said in a late-night television address from a deserted street in the capital that “the world must stop the war”.
He pleaded for people around the world to “come from your offices, your homes, your schools and universities, come in the name of peace, come with Ukrainian symbols to support Ukraine, to support freedom, to support life”.
Elsewhere, CNN reported that a “normally stoic” Russian general had told US military officials he was “depressed” about the war, according to an account of a high-level meeting in Moscow.
During a rare face-to-face meeting between Russia and the US, Major General Yevgeny Ilyin was said to have become agitated in what an attaché concluded may be a sign of wider morale problems.
CNN, citing a readout of the summit, said a US defence attaché “casually inquired” about Ilyin’s family background in Ukraine, at which point the general’s “stoic demeanor suddenly became flushed and agitated”.
He reportedly said the conflict was “tragic and I am very depressed over it” before walking out without shaking hands.
“At the very least, it is clear that morale problems among Russian forces are not limited to frontline troops,” the readout concluded.