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UK Defense Ministry: Russia increasingly losing initiative in war against Ukraine

by Dinara Khalilova May 31, 2023 2:00 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian soldiers ride on a BMP infantry fighting vehicle toward Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, on May 20, 2023. (Sergey Shestak/AFP via Getty Images)
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Since the start of May, Russia has increasingly ceded the initiative in its war against Ukraine, reacting to Kyiv's actions rather than actively advancing towards its own military goals, reported the U.K. Defense Ministry.

Russia has conducted 20 overnight missile and drone attacks against targets deep inside Ukraine over the past month, the ministry wrote on May 31.

However, Moscow has had "little success" in achieving its likely goals — crippling Ukraine's improved air defenses and destroying Ukrainian counterattack formations.

According to the ministry's latest intelligence update, Russia had to redeploy its security forces to respond to partisan attacks in the country's west. The Russian Volunteer Corps, one of the Russian militia groups fighting on Ukraine's side, claimed its members entered Russia's territory three times over the past two weeks.

On May 22, the Russian Volunteer Corps and another similar group — the Free Russia Legion — claimed they had crossed into Russia's Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, and taken hold of bordering villages.

As an operational goal, Russian military command is trying to create reserve forces and deploy them where they believe a Ukrainian counteroffensive will start, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote.

"However, this has probably been undermined by uncommitted forces instead being sent to fill gaps in the front line around Bakhmut," reads the intelligence update

The Kyiv Independent reported on May 22 that Bakhmut had effectively been occupied by Russian troops. While it has yet to be confirmed by the Ukrainian government, it is evident based on both official statements and those made by soldiers on the ground to the Kyiv Independent.

However, Ukrainian forces are still reportedly engaged in combat around the eastern city.

Belgorod incursion: Meet the anti-Kremlin militia behind the attack inside Russia
Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Independent, together with a number of journalists, was taken to a location in northern Ukraine to interview the members of the units that took part in the military operation inside Russia. Not revealing the exact location was the only precondition for the interview. Norther…
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