Putin's troops ordered to advance in 'most sectors' of the front in Ukraine

Putin's troops ordered to advance in 'most sectors' of the front in Ukraine
Ukrainian servicemen walk on a road outside the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, February 13, 2023. Credit: Reuters / Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

Russian President Vladimir Putin's troops have been ordered to advance in "most sectors" on the Ukrainian frontline but are still struggling to make a major breakthrough, British military authorities said on Tuesday.

Russian troops had "not mustered sufficient offensive combat power" on any one axis to "achieve a decisive effect," the British Ministry of Defence stated.

On Monday, Bakhmut once again endured a heavy barrage of artillery fire, with the NATO chief backing reports from local officials that the launch of a major new Russian offensive was currently underway, days before the first anniversary of Moscow's invasion.

Bakhmut's frontline position has been fortified, and authorities are only allowing people with a military role into the besieged city, a deputy battalion commander said. Civilians who wanted to leave the city would now have to brave the incoming fire, he said.

Ukrainian servicemen take cover during a shelling outside the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine 13 February, 2023. Credit: Reuters / Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

Wagner mercenaries are reported to have made "small gains" on the northern outskirts of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, but at the same time, Ukrainian resistance continues and the Russian advance to the south has "made little progress," according to intelligence reports.

Further north, in Kreminna-Svatove, the Russians are making "continued offensive efforts" but on "too small a scale to achieve a significant breakthrough," the British service added.

"Overall, the current operational picture suggests that Russian forces are being ordered forward in most areas, but have not massed sufficient offensive combat power on any one axis to achieve a decisive effect," the ministry said. British defence sources believe that the Russian president's spring offensive may not be launched simultaneously along the entire front line.

Boosting Ukraine's defence

NATO military alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that western countries need to boost ammunition supplies to Ukraine as Russia escalates its war effort ahead of the first anniversary of the 24 February invasion.

Credit: Belga

“We see no signs that President Putin is preparing for peace. What we see is the opposite, he is preparing for more war, for new offensives and new attacks," the NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of a two-day meeting of defence ministers in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin is accusing NATO of becoming more involved in the conflict. "NATO is an organisation which is hostile to us and which proves this hostility every day," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a press conference on Tuesday.

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) has recorded 7,199 civilian deaths and 11,756 wounded since Russia's 24 February invasion, mostly from shelling and missile and air strikes. However, it is believed the actual figure is far higher.

Reuters and the Belga News Agency contributed to this report. 

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