Moscow’s initial hopes to storming Kiyv in a matter of days to quickly take control of the country failed after armed forces were shocked by the level of resistance shown by Ukranian forces. The Kremlin quickly switched strategy in a bid to slowly encircle key cities and strangle the resistance forces within them.
But as the war enters its fourth week, Western officials say that the Kremlin’s back up plan is failing to make an material difference.
“Not only is it not going as it was planned, but even as they have adjusted to a rather mnore grinding form of warfare, that is stalling as well.
“There very encouraging resistance from the Ukranaians,” one official said.
Another added: “We’re continuing to see that Russian forces are continuing to make little bits of progress here and there but they’re not achieving any strategic breakthrough at any point.
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“Their ground forces are still quite heavily tied to Ukraine’s road netwrok, which obviously constrains them to a degree.
“Their off-road manouver is pretty limited and that means is that Ukrainians have been able to destroy some infrastructure, some bridges for example, and also to ambush Russian columns.
“All that means Russia’s advance has been slowed very substantially.”
It is believed as many as 7,000 Russian troops could have died in the invasion so far.
Putin and the rest of the Kremlin are thought to have catastrophically underestimated the resistance they would face in Ukraine, leaving them unprepared for the urban combat they have since faced.
Ukraine’s surprising defence has partially been boosted by military supplies provided by other countires.
As well as defensive equipment, thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons have been sent to help on the front line.
While there is some optimsism that Russia may be unable to keep up its level of attacks, hundreds of Ukranian civilians and soldiers have died following the invasion.
It is though more than 2,500 have been killed in the conflict so far.
About 3.2 million have fled abroad, United Nations data showed on Thursday, in what has become Europe’s fastest growing refugee crisis since World War Two.
More to follow…