Ukraine’s future is looking “pretty bleak” five months into its spring offensive, one military expert has claimed.
The dire assessment comes after Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of its neighbour in February of last year.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive, launched in early June, aims to recapture Russian-occupied territory, including the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Both armies are struggling to make major progress along the 1,500-kilometer (930-mile) front line in what is largely an artillery war.
According to Sean Bell, the prospects for Ukraine are looking dim as winter starts to bite.
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He explained: “Five months into this spring offensive, things are looking pretty bleak for Ukraine.”
The military expert tells Sky News that forces have been bogged down in Bakhmut, which is located about 55 kilometres (34 miles) north of the Russian-held regional capital of Donetsk.
The city, which fell to Russia in May, is “symbolic” but it’s not strategically important for Ukraine and has bogged down forces that could have been better deployed elsewhere, Bell claims.
The Dnipro river, which was flooded but is now no longer, presents an opportunity for the Ukrainians, Bell continues.
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“But the main focus has been breaking through Russian defences.”
He continued: “The Ukrainians could probably not have been better prepared. They had all the weapons, they had all the training and the money, but frankly five to six months into that offensive the lines haven’t moved a great deal and frankly the front line looks as if it’s stalled.
“We are in the middle of the winter. Until the freeze arrives, everything will likely remain static. But even then it’s going to be very difficult to make progress until the springtime.”
To make matters worse, Bell added, both sides are in “urgent need” of weapons – a setback that’s taking its toll on the front line.
Indeed, a serviceman in Bakhmut recently told AFP: “We have problems with too many issues. First, the quality of training for our soldiers. Second, we don’t have enough weapons or artillery.”
He continued: “Of course, it’s clear that the war in the Middle East, this conflict, is taking away the focus.”
In fact, the situation has got so bad it’s being reported Ukraine’s top commanders are refusing orders to advance against Vladimir Putin’s forces on the frontlines.
The unnamed serviceman remains optimistic about Ukraine’s prospects, however: “We have already been in very difficult situations when there was almost no focus on Ukraine. I am absolutely sure we will overcome this challenge.”
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