Vladimir Putin’s troops are suffering a “high casualty rate” in Ukraine which will lead to public criticism of his war growing in Russia, British defence chiefs said on Monday.
They stressed his generals were “reinforcing failure” by sticking to mistakes made since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The fact that the Russian air force had not won control of the skies was leaving Russian forces more vulnerable, they added.
Britain’s armed forces minister James Heappey recently said that more than 20,000 Russian military personnel had been killed in Mr Putin’s military campaign, more than the Soviet death toll in its ten-year war in Afghanistan which ended in 1989.
In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence said in London: “A combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes has led to this high casualty rate, which continues to rise in the Donbas offensive.
“The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered during wars of choice. As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.”
It also stressed: “In the first three months of its ‘special military operation’, Russia has likely suffered a similar death toll to that experienced by the Soviet Union during its nine year war in Afghanistan.”
Britain and other nations in the West are fighting on the airwaves and other media outlets against Russia to win the crucial information war over the Ukraine conflict.
The Russian president has stepped up his military onslaught on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where there are the two areas of Donetsk and Luhansk held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Ukrainian forces are mounting fierce resistance.
But the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that 50-100 Ukrainian soldiers are now being killed a day.
Tens of thousands of civilians are also feared to have been killed in the conflict which has seen Mr Putin’s army hit towns, cities and villages with indiscriminate artillery and air attacks.
Evidence is also growing of war crimes by his troops, including executions, with mass graves being found, and rapes.
He has refocused his military campaign on the Donbas after the failure of his initial invasion plan which included trying to seize Kyiv within days.
His troops were forced to retreat from near the capital and swathes of northern Ukraine.