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Анализа: Путин го зазеде Мариупол, но пошироката победа во Донбас се лизна од дофат

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Even as the Kremlin prepares to take full control of the ruins of Mariupol city, it faces the growing prospect of defeat in its bid to conquer all of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas because its badly mauled forces lack the manpower for significant advances.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may have to decide whether to send in more troops and hardware to replenish his dramatically weakened invasion force as an influx of modern Western weaponry bolsters Ukraine’s combat power, analysts say.

Russia’s forces are unlikely to be vanquished quickly even if no major new troop deployment materialises, setting the stage for the four-week-old Battle for the Donbas to grind on.

“I think it’s either going to be defeat with the current force posture, or mobilise. I don’t think there is any middle ground,” said Konrad Muzyka, director of the Poland-based Rochan consultancy.

He and other analysts said Russia’s invasion force was facing unsustainable troop and equipment losses, and that their window for a breakthrough was narrowing with Ukraine now bringing Western heavy artillery into the fray.

“Time is definitely working against the Russians. They’re running out of equipment. They’re running out of particularly advanced missiles. And, of course, the Ukrainians are getting stronger almost every day,” said Neil Melvin of the RUSI think-tank in London.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that “everything is going to plan … there’s no doubt that all the objectives will be achieved,” the RIA news agency reported.

Маркетинг

But in an unusually critical commentary on Russia’s main television channel this week, a prominent military analyst said Russians should stop swallowing “informational tranquilizers” about what Putin calls a special military operation.

With the increasing flow of U.S. and European weapon supplies to Ukrainian forces, “the situation will frankly get worse for us,” said Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired colonel.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February in a failed drive to capture the capital, Kyiv. It then withdrew to focus on a “second phase” announced on April 19 to capture the south and all of the Donbas, a chunk of which has been held by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

Russia retained its land corridor in southern Ukraine, but was hampered by Ukrainian troops who held out against massive bombardments for 82 days in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel works before ending their resistance this week.

Meanwhile, Putin’s forces pressed against Ukraine’s battle-hardened, fortified positions in the east, while trying to cut them off in a massive encirclement by advancing south from the Ukrainian town of Izium.

Околу една третина од Донбас беше поддржана од сепаратистите поддржани од Русија пред инвазијата. Москва сега контролира околу 90% од регионот Луганск, но не успеа да направи голем упад кон клучните градови Славјанск и Краматорск во Доњецк со цел да ја прошири контролата врз целиот регион.

“I’m deeply skeptical of their prospects” of conquering all of the Donbas, said Michael Kofman, an expert on the Russian military with CNA, a U.S. nonprofit research and analysis organisation.

“They’re dealing with a dramatically weakened force, probably substantially reduced morale. There’s a weak desire by officers to keep trying to prosecute offensives and the Russian political leadership on the whole seems to be procrastinating even as it’s facing the strategic defeat itself,” he said.

Музика рече дека Русија се чини дека го менува својот фокус во Донбас и дека ги префрлила тактичките групи на баталјоните кон исток откако не успеала да ја скрши украинската одбрана во Доњецк.

“They couldn’t push through from Izium so they moved to Sievierodonetsk and Lyman, possibly with the goal of trying to encircle Ukrainian forces around Sievierodonetsk and Lyman. Whether or not this occurs is an entirely different matter,” he said.

Генералот Валери Герасимов, началникот на Генералштабот на руската армија, го посети фронтот овој месец во очигледен обид да ги реши проблемите, но нема докази дека успеал, рече Џек Кин, претседател на Институтот за проучување на војната во Вашингтон. .

“That offensive has indeed stalled,” he said.

To the north of the Donbas, Kyiv has mounted a counter-offensive near the city of Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine that has cleared Russian forces from shelling range of the country’s second biggest city and even reached the border in one place.

Музика рече дека Украина оваа недела може да обезбеди значителен дел од својата граница со Русија северно од Харков.

But Ukraine will not be able to replicate that quick advance in the Donbas where Russia’s troops are much more densely concentrated.

“It’s going to be a hard fight. There’s going to be a hard fight and potentially a long fight. The Russian military hasn’t done well on the offensive, but it doesn’t rout or surrender easily either,” said Kofman.

The influx of Western heavy guns, including scores of US – and some Canadian – M777 howitzers that have longer range than their Russian equivalents, could give Ukraine an edge in a war that has revolved around artillery duels.

“The Ukrainians are starting to outrange the Russians. That means they are able to operate without the threat of counter-battery fire from the Russians,” said Muzyka.

“Don’t get me wrong, the Russians still enjoy overall artillery superiority in terms of numbers, but I’m not sure if the same goes for the quality now… This is an artillery war.”

Музика и Кофман рекоа дека дури и ако Путин испрати повеќе војници, организирањето на таков потег би можело да потрае со месеци.

“It’s very clear they’re preparing for at least some kind of measures to call up men with prior service experience. But right now, from what I can tell, Putin is just kicking the can down the road and letting the situation within the Russian military actually get worse,” Kofman said.

“For now,” he said, “this is looking like the Russians’ last offensive.”

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