The ministry of defence’s latest daily update on Twitter suggested that Moscow, despite being the aggressor and invading Ukraine last February, is no longer being proactive but just reactionary in the ongoing conflict.
Russian president Vladimir Putin already scaled back his war goals recently. Having initially planned to conquer the whole of the neighbouring country, he has since decided to just consolidate the already-occupied regions to the south and the east of Ukraine.
But, even this is not going well, according to British intelligence.
The MoD claimed: “Russia has had little success in its likely aims of neutralising Ukraine’s improved air defences and destroying Ukrainian counterattack forces.”
Earlier this week, Russia reported several attempted drone attacks reaching its capital city Moscow and quickly blamed Ukraine (although Kyiv denied any involvement).
This was the first time there was a significant assault behind Russian borders, and apparently brought the reality of the war closer to home for the civilian population.
Putin said Russia’s anti-air defences were “satisfactory” in fending off the drones, but admitted “there is still work to be done”.
As it continues waiting for Ukraine to begin its highly-anticipated spring counteroffensive, Moscow is launching intense air strikes on Ukraine’s own capital – including during the day, suggesting a change in tactics.
The British intelligence officers claimed that Russia’s personnel are split, with some having to focus on attacks within the country’s own borders.
The MoD alleged: “On the ground, it has redeployed security forces to react to partisan attacks inside western Russia.”
It comes after months of reportedly low morale among Russian troops, especially since the partial mobilisation of reservists back in September, and claims of poor management within the armed forces.
“Operationally, Russian commanders are likely attempting to generate reserve forces and position them where they believe a Ukrainian counterattack will occur,” the MoD added.
“However, this has probably been undermined by uncommitted forces instead being sent to fill gaps in the front line around Bakhmut.”
Bakhmut has become the focal point of the war in recent months, despite being a city of little strategic value, but it has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance – and therefore a desired asset for both sides.
The Russian paramilitaries in the Wagner Group declared victory in the city earlier this month. But, as regular Russian troops swap places with the paramilitaries in June, there’s a chance Ukrainian forces could still retake Bakhmut in the weeks to come.