Russia stuggling to train 300,000 conscripts as experienced officers and trainers already killed, says UK

The 300,000 troops Putin conscripted as part of the mobilisation drive are providing “little additional offensive combat capability’ as the Russian military is struggling to train them, UK intelligence has reported.

In its daily briefing, the UK Ministry of Defence said troops are being deployed with “little or no training”.

This is partly due to a shortage munitions and facilities and partly due to the fact many experienced officers and trainers are already dead, the MoD added.

It said:

The Russian Armed Forces were already stretched providing training for the approximate 300,000 troops required for its ‘partial mobilisation’, announced on 21 September 2022.

These issues will be compounded by the additional regular autumn annual conscription cycle, announced on 30 September 2022 and starting 01 November 2022, which is usually expected to bring in an additional 120,000 personnel.

Newly mobilised conscripts likely have minimal training or no training at all. Experienced officers and trainers have been deployed to fight in Ukraine and some have likely been killed in the conflict.

Russian forces are conducting training in Belarus due to a shortage of training staff, munitions and facilities in Russia. Deploying forces with little or no training provides little additional offensive combat capability.

Key events

Ukrainian forces using captured weapons fired at Russian targets near the key eastern city of Bakhmut on Friday as fighting dragged on in an area that Moscow is trying hard to capture.

Reuters reported that Russian forces have repeatedly launched attacks against Bakhmut and nearby Avdiivka in the Donetsk region in the east but are being pushed back with what Kyiv says are heavy losses.

“Last week there was very intense fighting … there are a lot of them [Russians], both people and equipment,” said a soldier who gave his name only as Moriak, the Ukrainian word for sailor.

Reuters journalists saw a captured Russian T-80 tank and a 2S23 Nona SVK self-propelled mortar, now controlled by Ukrainian crews, firing at targets outside Bakhmut.

Ukraine’s military says both were seized in March and took months to be refitted. The eight-wheel Nona – commanded by Moriak – has a 120mm mortar capable of firing a maximum of 10 rounds a minute.

They left us this gift, and it has high, very high [precision], and it now works against them, it helps us push them away.

Bakhmut has been an important target for Russia’s armed forces in a slow advance through the Donetsk region since Russia took the industrial towns of Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk in June and July.

Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut, Ukraine, fire at Russia positions from a T-80 tank captured from Moscow’s forces during earlier fighting
Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut, Ukraine, fire at Russia positions from a T-80 tank captured from Moscow’s forces during earlier fighting. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Washington accuses Moscow of trying to ‘freeze’ Ukraine into submission

The United States has accused the Russia of wanting to “freeze” Ukraine into submission since it has failed to win on the battlefield.

Russia has repeatedly attacked Ukrainian energy infrastructure with missiles and explosive drones while Kyiv’s forces have advanced against Moscow’s troops in the country’s east and south.

Agence France-Presse also reported that the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Thursday that Russia’s campaign against Ukraine’s energy network had left about 4.5 million people without power.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Friday after G7 foreign ministers met in Germany:

President Putin seems to have decided that if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze it into submission.

Antony Blinken gestures as he talks to reporters after the G7 summit in Muenster, Germany
Antony Blinken after the G7 summit in Muenster, Germany. Photograph: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The top diplomats from the world’s wealthiest nations agreed on a structure to funnel aid to Ukraine to replace infrastructure targeted by Russia after holding two days of talks in the German city of Muenster.

The US is also examining options to address the damage.

President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday to reaffirm US support to Ukraine.

Sullivan told a press conference in Kyiv that Ukraine had an “acute need for air defence in this critical moment”.

The Pentagon announced it would fund the refurbishment of T-72 tanks and Hawk surface-to-air missiles as part of a $400m security assistance package for Ukraine, bringing its total security aid to more than $18.2bn since February’s invasion.

Summary

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s continuing live coverage of the war in Ukraine. Here’s a rundown on the latest developments as it just passes 9am in the capital, Kyiv.

  • Vladimir Putin has said civilians still living in the Russian-annexed province of Kherson must be “evacuated” from the conflict zone, amid suggestions Russian forces may be preparing to abandon the west bank of the Dnipro river. The Russian president’s comments came amid mounting speculation that Moscow would attempt to hold the city of Kherson itself – the largest urban area under Russian occupation – at any cost.

  • A 24-hour curfew has been imposed in Kherson city, which makes up part of the Ukrainian province Russia annexed in September.

  • Nato has released footage of its latest nuclear exercise over north-western Europe, with the majority of its exercises being held at least 1,000km from Russia’s borders, over Belgium, the North Sea and the UK.

  • Russia wants the west to ease restrictions on state agriculture lender Rosselkhozbank to facilitate Russian grain exports, according to four sources familiar with the request.

  • Xi Jinping and Olaf Scholz have condemned Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, with both leaders expressing their desire for the conflict to end. The Chinese president stressed the need for greater cooperation between China and Germany in “times of change and turmoil”, while the German chancellor said Moscow was in danger of “crossing a line” if it used atomic weapons, in what was his first meeting with Xi.

  • The US announced $400m worth of additional security assistance for Ukraine, including refurbishing T-72 tanks from the Czech Republic and missiles for Hawk air defences that could be used against Russian drones and cruise missiles. The package brought US military aid for Kyiv to more than $18.2bn since Russia’s invasion in February.

  • The US talkshow host David Letterman has travelled to Kyiv to interview Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Netflix made the announcement on Twitter, saying the Ukrainian president will appear in a coming episode of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.

  • Ukraine’s state postal service has issued a commemorative wartime stamp dedicated to the strike on the Crimean Bridge last month which sparked celebrations across the country.

  • Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister, and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, discussed the situation in Belarus and agreed the need to keep sending a strong message to Russia that intimidation would not work, according to a statement from Sunak’s office.

  • Indian IT services company Infosys, from which the British prime minister’s wife collects £11.5m in annual dividends, is still operating from Moscow eight months after the company said it was pulling out. The company retains a staffed office and is paying subcontractors in the Russian capital to carry out IT services for a global client, although a spokesperson said they were looking to end that arrangement.



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