Express speaks to Kira Rudik, People’s Deputy of Ukraine
Vladimir Putin’s troops do not have the “stomach to fight”, an expert has warned as Ukraine prepares for a major counteroffensive expected in May. Dr Stepan Stepanenko, Head of British Friends of Ukraine, argued it is unlikely Russian troops will not suffer from a major strike Ukraine is expected to deliver in the next few weeks in a bid to reconquer lost territories since the war began in February 2022.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he warned although young Russian conscripts were “entrenched” they have “no stomach for a fight”.
He said: “One has to understand what a failed offensive for Ukraine is. The worst case scenario is that there is no offensive at all. In the unlikely event that this occurs, we have to ask ourselves why this happened and the answer is likely to lie in insufficient arms deliveries to Ukraine.
“It is beyond doubt that Ukraine does not want to send its soldiers forward without adequate artillery and other support, like the Russians are doing.
“The capture of all territories occupied by Russia since February 2022 is the ultimate goal for Ukraine but has never been stated as the goal of the offensive.
“As such, a failed offensive should be understood as one that does not have a major effect on the demarcation of front lines. This, although possible, is unlikely.
“Ukraine has been preparing for many months and the Russians, although entrenched, are predominantly young conscripts or mobilised civilians with no stomach for a fight.”
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NATO allies have so far provided more than 98 percent of the combat vehicles they promised to Kyiv, giving Ukraine a bigger punch as it contemplates launching a counteroffensive.
Along with more than 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, Ukraine’s allies have sent “vast amounts of ammunition” and also trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian brigades, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
More than 30,000 troops are estimated to make up the new brigades. Some NATO partner countries, such as Sweden and Australia, have also provided armoured vehicles.
Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels: “This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.”
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His comments came a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held a “long and meaningful” phone call in their first known contact since Russia’s full-scale invasion more than a year ago.
Though Zelensky said he was encouraged by Wednesday’s call and Western officials welcomed Xi’s move, it did not appear to improve peace prospects.
Russia and Ukraine are far apart in their terms for peace, and Beijing — while looking to position itself as a global diplomatic power — has refused to criticise Moscow’s invasion. The Chinese government sees Russia as a diplomatic ally in opposing US influence in global affairs, and Xi visited Moscow last month.
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