Russia has deployed around 97% of its troops as it tries to step up its offense in eastern Ukraine — but it still lacks the manpower to “punch through” Kyiv’s defenses. a top British military official said Wednesday.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC that Russia had yet to make a breakthrough in the eastern region of Ukraine despite its advances.
“We haven’t actually seen this massing of a single force to punch through in a big offensive. We’ve just seen an effort to advance, and that has come at a huge cost to the Russian army,” he said.
“We now estimate 97% of the Russian army, the whole Russian army, is now in Ukraine.”
Ukraine has been looking to build up its forces in time for a Russian counteroffensive, which Western officials expect Moscow to launch sometime this spring.
Wallace noted helping Ukraine defeat Russia will strengthen the rest of Europe’s security.
“If 97% of the Russian army is now committed to Ukraine, with an attribution rate very, very high, and potentially their effectiveness depleted by 40%, and nearly two-thirds of their tanks destroyed or broken, that has a direct impact on the security of Europe,” Wallace said.
“I think what Russia is doing in trying to advance, it’s doing in a sort of human way, almost First World War levels of attribution and with success rates of a matter of meters rather than kilometers,” he added.
According to Wallace, the “biggest unknown” is what will happen as a result of Russian leaders either having “a gap in reality” or “no regard for human life of [Russia’s] own.”
Russia has sought to capture the key eastern city of Bakhmut. Fighting has been aggressive as its forces now move to encircle the city, which Ukrainian forces have held.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskysaid the difficult battles near Bakhmut were depleting Russia’s ability to launch a stronger offensive.
Noting the situation in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, he said: “That is where the unprecedented destruction of Russian potential is taking place now.”