Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is nowhere near ending, and will continue to drag on and get even more bloody, the former head of the Royal Navy has warned.
Speaking to MailOnline, Admiral Lord Alan West said the Russian despot does not care about his people dying in his desperate attempt to seize the country, which he said has also thrown the world economy into chaos.
The former security minister and Cold War commander was speaking as Ukraine braces itself for a Spring offensive which is expected to see some of the most brutal fighting since the war began on February 24, 2022.
Ukraine has surpassed expectations with its fierce defence of Kyiv and subsequent counteroffensives, but West – the former First Sea Lord – said were it not for the supply of western weaponry, Kyiv’s armies would already be getting pushed back.
Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is nowhere near ending, and will continue to drag on and get even more bloody, the former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Lord Alan West has warned. Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers ride armoured vehicles down an icy road in the Donetsk region
Speaking to MailOnline, Admiral Lord Alan West (pictured arriving for a service at Westminster Abbey, file photo) said the Russian despot does not care about his people dying in his desperate attempt to seize the country
‘I’m afraid it will be much longer and bloodier. I think if we hadn’t given any weapons to Ukraine then I think they would have start being pushed back. This means they won’t be,’ Lord West said.
‘Even then it will be a stalemate. The casualties will go on. Putin doesn’t care about his people dying. He couldn’t give a s**t about them.
‘It’s totally unacceptable what he is doing. He is a loathsome chap. He has thrown a complete blight to the world. People are starving, the world economy has been thrown into chaos – he is an absolutely dreadful man.’
His comments alluded to attempts by Russia, and specifically the Wagner mercenary group, to take the key town of Bakhmut in the eastern Donbas region, a city in the north that has been the main focus of Russia’s offensive for months.
Wagner has crashed wave upon wave of convict soldiers against Ukraine’s defences in what has been likened to a First World War meat grinder of a battle.
Both sides have suffered heavy losses, but reports have said Russia in particular has been using the Wagner prison mercenaries as canon fodder to try and make inroads.
After Ukraine’s Western allies announced they would send main battle tanks to Ukraine to aid in its defence against a new major offensive by Russia, Moscow seems desperate to make as much ground as possible.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg warned that Russia is massing at least 200,000 more soldiers for the new assault, and ominously said that there is ‘no sign’ the Russian president is preparing for peace.
Ukraine has surpassed expectations with its fierce defence of Kyiv and subsequent counteroffensives, but West – the former First Sea Lord – said were it not for the supply of western weaponry, Kyiv’s armies would already be getting pushed back. Pictured: A boy stands on a destroyed Russian tank displayed in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, January 31
Speaking in South Korea, he warned Russia is preparing for ‘more war’.
Intelligence in the West, Ukraine and in Russia is suggesting Putin and his generals are intending to mount a new blitzkrieg-style onslaught to take Kyiv.
Ukraine fears this new assault on the capital, with the intention of winning the war, could coincide with February 24 – the first anniversary on Putin’s invasion.
He said the world must ‘prepare for the long haul’ and said it is ‘extremely important that Putin doesn’t win’.
A Russian victory would only empower other dictators and make the world a ‘more dangerous’ place, he said.
Stoltenberg and Lord West’s comments came as Britain said a large Russian force has advanced hundreds of metres in a major new assault on a Ukrainian-held bastion in southeastern Ukraine this week, but it added it is unlikely to force a significant breakthrough in the region.
Russian officials claimed the advance had secured a foothold in the coal-mining town of Vuhledar. Kyiv has acknowledged heavy fighting there but says it has repelled the push so far while inflicting heavy losses on the attackers.
In an intelligence update offering rare battlefield detail, the British ministry said Russia was attacking the town with a force at least the size of a brigade, a unit normally comprising several thousand troops with a full range of capabilities.
A Ukrainian serviceman uses his foot to brush snow off the top of a BMP-2 infantry combat vehicle in the Donetsk region on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine
So far, the Russians had likely advanced from the south several hundred metres beyond the Kashlahach River, which it said had marked the front line for months.
The small river flows on the edge of the town of Pavlivka, about two kilometres south of Vuhledar.
‘There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector. However, it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.’
It said Russian commanders were probably trying to develop a new axis of advance, as well as to divert Ukrainian forces from Bakhmut.
Vuhledar lies at the southern-most end of the eastern front in Ukraine, overlooking railway lines that supply Russian forces on the adjacent southern front.
Ukraine has repelled several Russian attacks on the town since the start of the war eleven months ago.
The Russian assault there comes after Moscow made significant advances around Bakhmut over the past two weeks, its biggest gains since Ukraine took back large chunks of territory in the second half of 2022. Momentum has swung towards Russia in recent weeks after front lines were frozen in place since November.
Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers carry a coffin during the funeral ceremony of Vitaly Svintsitskyi at the Latin Cathedral in Lviv, January 30, 2023. Svintsitskyi was a deputy of the Lviv City Council, who from the first days of the war joined the ranks of the 80th brigade
Military experts say Moscow is determined to make gains in Ukraine in the coming months, before Kyiv receives hundreds of newly pledged Western tanks and armoured vehicles for a counter-attack to recapture occupied territory this year.
Bakhmut, a city which once held 100,000 people, looks increasingly vulnerable after Russia captured the salt-mining town of Soledar to its north around a week ago.
Moscow says it has made substantial further gains both on the northern and southern outskirts of Bakhmut; Kyiv says the city itself is not yet in danger of falling, but the fighting there is hard.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Russia’s assault in the east as an attempt to exact ‘revenge’ for its earlier losses.
‘And I think that they will not be able to provide their society with any convincing positive result in the offensive. I am confident in our army. We will stop them all, little by little, destroy them and prepare our big counteroffensive,’ he said on Monday.
Kyiv says the Russian assaults of recent weeks have come at huge cost, initially mostly relying on mercenaries, including thousands of convicts recruited from Russian prisons and sent into battle in human waves without proper training or equipment.
But Russia’s call-up of hundreds of thousands of reservists late last year means Moscow has now been able to reconstitute regular military units exhausted or depleted earlier in the war.
The British defence ministry statement said the assault on Vuhledar was led by a unit of Russian naval infantry that had tried and failed to attack the town in November.
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