Russian forces have made marginal gains on the outskirts of Severodonetsk, a crucial city in Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast, but have largely stalled along other routes.
Military analysts say Moscow is facing mounting troop losses and broken-down equipment that will complicate any efforts to renew offensive operations in the ongoing battle to secure the Donbas region.
Both Russia and Ukraine have continued to conduct heavy artillery barrages on positions around the Severodonetsk pocket. Both sides are experiencing morale problems from the intense combat.
“Ukrainian forces have likely suffered desertions in recent weeks, however, Russian morale highly likely remains especially troubled,” officials with British military intelligence tweeted. “Cases of whole Russian units refusing orders and armed standoffs between officers and their troops continue to occur.” Ukraine reportedly intercepted phone calls on June 17 and 18 where Russian soldiers complained about frontline conditions, poor equipment, and an overall lack of personnel.
“One soldier claimed that units have been largely drained of personnel and that certain battalion tactical groups have only 10 to 15 troops remaining in service,” according to the Institute for the Study of War think tank.
Ukrainian forces have likely suffered some desertions from the ranks in recent weeks but the situation is far worse for Russian troops, according to British military intelligence officials.
“Cases of whole Russian units refusing orders and armed standoffs between officers and their troops continue to occur,” British officials said. “Drivers for low morale include perceived poor leadership, limited opportunity for rotations of units out of combat, very heavy casualties, combat stress, continued poor logistics and problems with pay.”
“Morale problems in the Russian forces are so significant that they limit Moscow’s ability to achieve operational objectives,” British officials said. “Many Russian personnel of all ranks also likely remain confused about the war’s objectives.”