Putin’s next steps in Ukraine assessed: ‘Military is preparing for a long war’

Russian TV host admits economy 'is not mobilised for war'

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Peace between Russia and Ukraine does not look any more likely as President Volodymyr Zelensky rules out trading territory for an end to the conflict. In an address to Ukrainians, Mr Zelensky hit out at the “great geopoliticians” who have disregarded “the millions of those who actually live on the territory” by proposing “an illusion of peace.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously demanded that Ukraine recognises Russia’s control over the Crimean peninsula, as well as two territories run by Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbas region.

With both sides refusing to budge, Dr Neil Melvin, Director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, tells Express.co.uk that Russia could be settling in for the long-run.

He said: “There is some evidence that the military is preparing for a long war.

“They are starting to feel now that they will have to fight for many months, maybe even years. It is going to become harder and harder to overcome Ukrainian resistance.

“The question really becomes about whether Russia on one side has the resources and the will to keep fighting, and whether Ukraine is willing to pay the price for the war.”

Dr Melvin is not the only one to make this claim – US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines also suggested Russia is making preparations for a long war earlier this month.

She said: “We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine.”

Dmitry Gorenburg, an expert on Russian security at the Virginia-based CNA think-tank, told The Moscow Times earlier this month that even if Russia makes progress in one area of Ukraine, this may allow Ukraine to make progress elsewhere.

He said: “[They] have to make trade-offs.

“The price for making gains in one place is that the Russians have to move forces out of another area, and then Ukraine can take back territory.”

Despite having a superior military, Russian forces have only been able to take control of one Ukrainian city – Kherson.

While they have also pulverised Mariupol and are now attacking the east of Ukraine, Moscow’s troops have endured big losses.

Last month, the UK Government claimed that Russia has lost 15,000 troops since the beginning of the war, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace saying Moscow had also lost thousands of armoured vehicles, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets in the conflict.

In a statement to MPs, Wallace said: “It is our assessment that approximately 15,000 Russian personnel have been killed during their offensive.

“Alongside the death toll are the equipment losses and in total a number of sources suggest that to date over 2,000 armoured vehicles have been destroyed or captured.

“This includes at least 530 tanks, 530 armoured personnel carriers and 560 infantry fighting vehicles.

“Russia has also lost over 60 helicopters and fighter jets.

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“The offensive that was supposed to take a maximum of a week has now taken weeks.”

Dr Melvin had his own take on why Russia has so far failed to achieve any of its military objectives: “I think initially they made a bit of a mess of the war, the Russian military wasn’t actually involved in the planning of the invasion.

“The decision and planning process was taken by the Russian intelligence community, with Putin at the head.

“So when the Russian army was sent in, they hadn’t really made military preparations for plans and logistics, so the battle of Kyiv went so badly wrong for Russia because they were not ready for it.”

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