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A retired US general says Russia's 'weakness' prevents it from advancing to make 'meaningful progress' in Ukraine

Jake Epstein   

A retired US general says Russia's 'weakness' prevents it from advancing to make 'meaningful progress' in Ukraine
  • Russian forces are struggling on the battlefield, hamstringing any meaningful progress in Ukraine.
  • A retired US general told Insider that Russian artillery is the only advantage Putin's forces have.

Russia's "weakness" on the battlefield has prevented it from making any "meaningful progress" in Ukraine, a retired US general said on Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of the US Army in Europe, told Insider that Russia lacks the resources and capabilities to make significant advancements in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region — where the 20-week-long war has turned into a grinding campaign.

Hodges said Russia's arsenal of artillery and rockets is the "only advantage" that President Vladimir Putin's forces have right now and said this is reflected in attacks on Ukrainian defense positions and civilian areas, which cause lots of casualties.

A key to Ukrainian success will be to neutralize these weapons, he said. Without them, Russian victories will be hard to come by.

"It's all about firepower," Hodges said. "The ability to destroy or disrupt Russian firepower advantage is what's going to make the difference."

"Even with the huge advantage that the Russians have in terms of firepower, they've not been able to make meaningful progress over the past several weeks." Hodges said, adding that Russia has also failed to demonstrate "the ability to integrate air operations with ground operations."

Another issue Russia faces is a lack of military personnel. According to recent UK intelligence, this issue may force the Kremlin to recruit prisoners to fight on its behalf.

Hodges said, "the overall weakness of the Russians" can be told through their inability to break through the frontlines in eastern Ukraine and advance west toward major cities like Odesa, Mykolaiv, or Kyiv — the capital city that Putin's troops failed to capture in the early weeks of the war.

Since Russian forces retreated from Kyiv — a much sought-after conquest that Putin and Western intelligence predicted would fall in a matter of days after the February 24 invasion — the conflict has turned into a bloody and slow-moving affair in the Donbas region, with shifting frontlines and constant artillery exchanges.

But after months of fighting there, Russia has recently started to see small territorial success.

"Russian forces are likely maintaining military pressure on Ukrainian forces whilst regrouping and reconstituting for further offensives in the near future," UK intelligence said on Monday.

Ukraine, however, has enjoyed the new arrival of Western-supplied long-range rocket systems — weapons that it asked for from the US and allies for weeks.


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