Putin faces increasingly acute crisis as Russian army ravaged by severe shortages

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In an update issued online today, analysts at Defence Intelligence claim the Kremlin’s war planners are grappling with a severe lack of manpower as well as a dilemma over sending troops to Ukraine’s Donbas region or defending against Ukrainian counter-attacks. It comes as former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev claimed Russia will prevail in Ukraine and set the terms for a future peace deal with Kyiv.

Defence Intelligence said in its statement: “Russia has struggled to sustain effective offensive combat power since the start of the invasion and this problem is likely becoming increasingly acute.

“As well as dealing with severe under-manning, Russian planners face a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the southwestern Kherson sector.”

It added Moscow’s immediate aim is to seize all of the 26,517 km² Donetsk regions of east Ukraine.

The intelligence organisation’s statement continued: “While Russia may still make further territorial gains, their operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganisation and refit.”

Defence Intelligence said Moscow continues to commit six separate armies to its offensive in the Donbas region, made up of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.

Lawyers and rights groups recently said more Russian men are trying to avoid military service since Putin launched the war in Ukraine.

Some are fleeing the country while others are trying to get exemptions or ignoring summonses.

Military service is mandatory for men aged 18 to 27 in Russia – draft dodging can risk up to two years in prison or fines.

If the Russian army cannot recruit enough soldiers, Putin’s options would include using conscripts, mobilising Russian society or scaling back his military ambitions.

Putin has repeatedly said conscripts should not fight in the conflict, although Russia’s defence ministry reported in March some already have.

A military prosecutor told Russia’s upper house of parliament in June that about 600 conscripts had been drawn into the conflict and around a dozen officers had been disciplined over it.

Legal advice group Release is co-run by Dmitry Lutsenko. He said membership of a Telegram group for those seeking advice on avoiding conscription has increased to more than 1,000 people, up from about 200 before the conflict.

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A second rights group called Citizen. Army. Law said it had seen the number of people asking about alternative services increase 10 times to more than 400 this year compared with about 40 over the equivalent period last year.

Sergei Krivenko, who heads the organisation, said: “Many people are scared. They don’t want to go into an army that is fighting.”

There have been some signs the Kremlin is looking for more men to fight what it calls its special military operation.

Putin signed a law in May which removed the upper age limit of 40 for people who want to enlist in the Russian military.

Ukraine claims Russia has lost 38,550 military personnel since the war began.

Moscow does not publish its losses often, but in March it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had died since the start of the invasion.

Neither of the claims have been independently verified.

Meanwhile, Vadym Skibitskyi, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, said recently Russia is preparing for the next stage of its offensive.

He said: “It is not only missile strikes from the air and sea. We can see shelling along the entire line of contact, along the entire front line. There is an active use of tactical aviation and attack helicopters.

“Clearly preparations are now underway for the next stage of the offensive.”

Russia appears to be regrouping units ahead of an offensive in the direction of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region.

Britain said on Sunday Russia has been reinforcing defences across the areas it has occupied in the south of Ukraine after pressure from Ukrainian forces and Ukraine’s leaders vowing to drive the enemy out.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russia has fired more than 3,000 cruise missiles at his country to date.

Mr Medvedev, now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said in a post on Telegram today: “Russia will achieve all its goals. There will be peace – on our terms.”

The former Russian president was once hailed by Western countries as a possible partner, but he has become increasingly hawkish and outspoken in his criticism of the West since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24.

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