Russia has probably lost around a third of the ground forces it deployed to Ukraine and its offensive in the Donbas region “has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule”, British military intelligence said.
On Sunday, NATO and the US expressed confidence that Turkey would not prevent Finland and Sweden from joining the Western military alliance, as the two Nordic countries took firm moves to join in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to British military intelligence, Russia has likely lost a third of its foot personnel in Ukraine, and its attack in the Donbas region “has lost momentum and fallen far behind schedule.”
“Despite small-scale initial successes, Russia has failed to secure considerable territory gains over the past month while maintaining consistently high levels of attrition,” the British military ministry tweeted.
Meanwhile, Russia announced on Sunday that it had fired missiles at Ukrainian positions in the east, targeting command centres and arsenals as part of an attempt to encircle Ukrainian armed formations in the Donbas war.
Almost three months after Russia shocked the world by invading Ukraine, its military faces a bogged-down war, the prospect of a bigger NATO and an opponent buoyed Sunday by wins on and off the battlefield.
Top diplomats from NATO met in Berlin with the alliance’s chief and declared that the war “is not going as Moscow had planned.”
“Ukraine can win this war,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance must continue to offer military support to Kyiv. He spoke by video link to the meeting as he recovers from a COVID-19 infection.
On the diplomatic front, both Finland and Sweden took steps bringing them closer to NATO membership despite Russian objections. Finland announced Sunday that it was seeking to join NATO, citing how the invasion had changed Europe’s security landscape.
Several hours later, Sweden’s governing party endorsed the country’s own bid for membership, which could lead to an application in days.
If the two nonaligned Nordic nations become part of the alliance, it would represent an affront to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has cited NATO’s post-Cold War expansion in Eastern Europe as a threat to Russia. NATO says it is a purely defensive alliance.
While Moscow suffered diplomatic setbacks, its forces in eastern Ukraine failed to achieve territorial advances.
Ukraine said it repelled Russian offensives in the east, and Western military officials said Moscow’s campaign in the region, which began after its forces failed to take Kyiv, had slowed to a crawl.
Meanwhile, Ukraine triumphed in the Eurovision Song Contest, boosting its morale.
With its song “Stefania,” which has become a popular anthem among Ukrainians during the war, the folk-rap ensemble Kalush Orchestra won the glittering pan-European competition.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy promised that his country would take the prize of hosting the following yearly competition, as is traditional.
Almost three months after Russia shocked the world by invading Ukraine, its military faced a bogged-down war, the prospect of a bigger NATO and an opponent buoyed Sunday by its wins on and off the battlefield.
Finland decided to seek NATO membership as top diplomats from the Western alliance met in Berlin. The leaders of the militarily neutral country said the invasion had changed Europe’s security landscape — though NATO’s chief declared that “Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned.”
“Ukraine can win this war,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance must continue to give the country military support.
Several hours later, Sweden’s governing party also endorsed joining NATO, a move that could lead to the country’s application within days.
The two nonaligned Nordic nations becoming part of the alliance would represent an affront to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has cited NATO’s post-Cold War expansion in Eastern Europe as a threat to Russia. NATO says it is a purely defensive alliance.
While Moscow lost ground on the diplomatic front, Russian forces failed to make territorial gains in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine said it held off Russian offensives Sunday in the country’s east, and Western military officials said the campaign Moscow launched there after its forces failed to seize Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, had slowed to a snail’s pace.
Ukraine, meanwhile, celebrated a morale-boosting victory in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The folk-rap ensemble Kalush Orchestra won the glitzy pan-European competition with its song “Stefania,” which has become a popular anthem among Ukrainians during the war.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed his nation would claim the customary winner’s honor of hosting the next annual competition.
“Step by step, we are forcing the occupiers to leave the Ukrainian land,” Zelenskyy said.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update Sunday that the Russian army had lost up to one-third of the combat strength it committed to Ukraine in late February and was failing to gain any substantial territory.
“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” the ministry said on Twitter.
The assessments of Russia’s war performance by Ukraine’s supporters came as Russian troops retreated from around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, after bombarding it for weeks.
The regional governor said there had been no shelling in the city for several days, though Russia continued to strike the wider Kharkiv region.
The largely Russian-speaking city with a prewar population of 1.4 million is only 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the Russian city of Belgorod, and was a key military objective earlier in the war.
With the Russians pushed back for now, Ukrainian troops cleared villages on the outskirts of Kharkiv, and some residents returned home.
After failing to capture Kyiv following the Feb. 24 invasion, Putin shifted the invasion’s focus the Donbas, aiming to seize territory not already occupied by the Moscow-backed separatists.
Airstrikes and artillery barrages make it extremely dangerous for journalists to move around in the east, hindering efforts to get a full picture of the fighting.
But it appeared to be a back-and-forth slog without major breakthroughs on either side.
In his nightly address Saturday, Zelenskyy said “the situation in Donbas remains very difficult” and Russian troops were “still trying to come out at least somewhat victorious.”
In the southern Donbas, the Azov Sea port of Mariupol is now largely under Russian control, except for a few hundred Ukrainian troops who have refused to surrender and remain holed up in the Azovstal steel factory.
The Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office said Sunday that regional prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into Moscow’s alleged use of restricted incendiary bombs at the steelworks.
While international law recognizes legal uses of phosphorus and other incendiary munitions on the battlefield, it bars their use to directly target enemy personnel or civilians.