Ukraine did an “excellent” job of attacking Russian forces in areas where they’d least expect it which represents a “major failing” of Putin’s intelligence services, according to an expert. Ukraine has liberated a huge amount of occupied territory in the northeast of the country, while pushing the attack, albeit more slowly, on other fronts.
For months, Ukraine claimed it would launch a counterattack in Kherson in the south of the country – which it did – however, a lightning attack in Kharkiv Oblast in the northeast caught the Kremlin off guard, routing Russian forces there.
The fact that Russia, not long ago deemed by many to be the country with the world’s second-mightiest military, missed the preparations for a counteroffensive shows serious problems with the Kremlin’s intelligence services, according to Professor Peter Duncan, at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).
He told Express.co.uk: “The Ukrainians did an excellent job in fooling the Russians about pretending they were going to attack in Kherson, when in fact, their major attack was going to be in Kharkiv Oblast in the northeast.
“It means the Russians just weren’t looking properly at what the Ukrainian troops were doing. It means there’s something wrong the way the Russians use their satellites, their military satellites, because they should be able to tell what the Ukrainians are doing.”
Russia’s poor performance in the war has come as a shock to many analysts around the world. In the early days, Russian troops ran out of food and fuel – they were filmed lost, seeming to aimlessly drive around the Ukrainian countryside.
Many pointed to corruption in the Russian military which left it as a shell of its former self. The Kremlin expected Kyiv to fall in three days’ – seven months later, Russian forces are being pushed back on multiple fronts, none of them near the capital.
Prof Duncan added: “The Americans have been very good at sharing intelligence straight away, as soon as they get it, with the Ukrainians, which has been a huge boost to them.
“The Russians can’t even share it with themselves. That is a major failing unless they can sort it out, and there is no reason to think they can sort it out because so many of their top people are dying.”
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Since the counteroffensive began in the beginning of September, Ukraine has recaptured more than 3,000 square miles (8,000 square kilometres) of occupied territory.
The offensive has slowed down in recent days as Kyiv consolidates its gains, however in the northeast Ukraine has crossed the Oskil River in some places.
Previously, Russia’s Ministry of Defence said that this would be where Russian forces regrouped and built a defensive line. This does not appear to have happened, at least not fully.
Now, Moscow has begun to mobilise 300,000, most likely untrained or poorly trained, Russian reservists in an attempt to stop Ukraine, however its unclear how they will be able to do that if their intelligence on the ground continues to fail them.