Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine are “exhausted” and desperately low on ammunition, according to a prominent military expert.
As Kyiv continues to deny Moscow’s claim of victory in the long and bloody battle for Bakhmut, Igor Girkin, a former Russian army commander, said on Telegram that the expected Ukrainian counter-attack would likely succeed.
"Why do I think the enemy will attack soon? Precisely because they have the best chance to succeed now," Girkin wrote.. "The best strike units of the Russian Armed Forces are exhausted from months of fighting. Stocks of ammunition are minimal."
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He said that if, as expected, Ukraine pushed into the largely pro-Russian province of Donetsk the attackers would face a defending force that was “badly shattered and ‘thinned out' by redeployment of reserves to Bakhmut".
Girkin added that the battle for Bakhmut – which has raged since the beginning of August and cost thousands of lives on both sides – had been "not even approximately worth the effort and money spent on it".
Russia has recently declared victory in Bakhmut – not for the first time – but Putin is sending hundreds more reinforcements to the area.
Pentagon sources estimate that as many as 20,000 Russian troops have been killed in the battle with an additional 80,000 men injured.
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Bakhmut “does not excite me,” Girkin wrote. “Taking into account what I know about losses, wasted resources, lost time, and the initial understanding of the strategic senselessness of this operation.”
There has been a massive cost in Russian blood, he added: ”Unfortunately, not those who planned and directed these operations from large headquarters, but the blood of front-line soldiers and officers, mobilised and volunteers.”
Girkin, who was a very vocal supporter of Putin’s war on Ukraine in the beginning, founded a group in April called the Club of Angry Patriots. The group, which includes several other prominent Russian political figures such as Pavel Gubarev and political activist Vladimir Kucherenko, predicts that poor leadership will lead to a probable Russian loss in Ukraine.
That loss, Girkin and his allies claim, could lead to a Russian civil war and even a Western-backed coup – and only a massive improvement in the response from Russia’s military leaders can prevent it.
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