Home Top News Russian Attacks On Ukraine Stoke Fears Army Near Breaking Point

Russian Attacks On Ukraine Stoke Fears Army Near Breaking Point

Russian Attacks On Ukraine Stoke Fears Army Near Breaking Point


The next few months will amount to Ukraine’s toughest test in the war with Russia (File)

Russia’s missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy system, the bombardment of its second-largest city, and advances along the front are stoking worries that Kyiv’s military effort is nearing breaking point.

A dire shortage of ammunition and manpower along the 1,200-kilometer (930-mile) front and gaps in air defense show that Ukraine is at its most fragile moment in over two years of war, according to Western officials with knowledge of the situation.

The risk is a collapse of Ukrainian defenses, an event that would give the Kremlin an opening to make a major advance for the first time since the initial stages of the conflict, at least one official said.

The next few months will amount to Ukraine’s toughest test, with a public growing exhausted of war, especially in the city of Kharkiv in the country’s east, which has been particularly targeted.

Krystyna Malieieva, who fled the city after Russia invaded and then returned, said the unpredictability of the attacks has struck fear into city residents, even if most don’t believe the Kremlin can take a metropolis whose prewar population was 1.5 million.

“There is very depressive mood in Kharkiv now,” Malieieva, the owner of a family center who returned in 2023 after a year in Croatia and the UK, said in an interview. “People started to return last year, new restaurants opened – and now I see people are fleeing again.”

Russian forces are benefiting from a widening gap in ammunition supplies, with Moscow set to secure 6 million shells this year with ramped-up production and supplies from North Korea and Iran, according to one official.

Hanging above it all is the stalled $60 billion US aid package, a victim of infighting as House Republicans demand concessions on immigration from President Joe Biden. Should those funds not come through, there is no alternative for Ukraine at its darkest moment, the officials said.

Far from being able to seize back occupied territory, which was last year’s objective, Kyiv’s forces are struggling to hold the line on Russia’s advance. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said last week that Russia may be able to mobilize as many as 300,000 new troops by June 1.

Congress needs to act to approve the military aid and there is no way around that, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said.

The US doesn’t see any signs of an imminent breakthrough by Russian forces, a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. But Ukraine’s morale is low and the possibility of a collapse in its army can’t be ruled out, another official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The destruction early Thursday of a thermal power plant some 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Kyiv – the biggest producer in the region around the capital – drove home the country’s vulnerability to missile strikes. Zelenskiy called the military’s lack of air defense “the biggest challenge” in the hours after the attack.

The demise of the Trypilska was part of a nationwide missile and drone barrage that hit targets, including plants and gas-storage facilities, in five regions. European natural gas futures rose to their highest level in over two weeks, with benchmark futures jumped as much as 7.1%.

Russian forces have also unleashed their firepower all along the frontline and made marginal gains since capturing the eastern city of Avdiivka in February. Kremlin troops are seeking to close in strategically key spots, such as the town of Chasiv Yar, west of Bakhmut in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

After months of stalling, Zelenskiy and Ukrainian lawmakers have expedited contested legislation to bolster the ranks of fighting forces, approving a lower conscription age and tightening rules for the draft.

A key worry is Kharkiv, which Russian forces tried and failed to seize in the opening campaign of the war. The proximity of the city, to the Russian border makes it vulnerable to Russian shelling. Kremlin forces have pelted it with S-300 ballistic missiles and glide bombs, laying waste to swathes of residential areas and destroying nearly all local power-generating capacity.

For the first time since the invasion began, fewer than half of Ukrainians believe the country can recover all territory seized by Russia, a February survey by Kyiv-based Rating Group found. And while most Ukrainians still believe in victory, they are increasingly questioning what it may entail.

So far there’s been no mass exodus out of Kharkiv. Oleksandr Savchuk, the owner of a boutique publishing house, said the daily attacks won’t force him out until Russia pulls artillery up to the city limits.

“The fact that we’re here here is also a form of resistance,” he said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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