The war in Ukraine could be heading towards a stalemate, western officials said today.
One expert said if both sides were in the same situation by September, it would be “reasonable” to describe it as a stalemate.
They said: “I can understand why people are describing it in those terms.
“I think, from our point of view, if it continues like this then we can see it ending up as a stalemate.
“I think things are still playing out over the summer months. So if we were to describe a kind of frozen conflict if it was a stalemate in those terms.
“If we were still in this position come September then I think that’s a reasonable description.
“Any battle ebbs and flows and we would expect losses and gains on both sides. So the question really is does it come to a tipping point?
“The rate of progress and gains for the Russians seems to have slowed it’s certainly not what they would expect and, overall, the battle is finally balanced.”
It comes after a US official said the Russian invasion in eastern Ukraine was reaching a stalemate, warning that neither side could win in the present circumstances.
Earlier it was revealed that the mistress, ex-wife and family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin had been added to the UK sanctions list.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is targeting the “shady network propping up” the leader and the announcement will result in his inner circle being hit.
The Foreign Office said Putin’s official assets were modest but his lifestyle was “funded by a cabal of family, friends and elites”.
One of the most high-profile figures on the list is Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast who is widely reported to be Putin’s mistress.
A UK official described her as having a “close personal relationship” with the former KGB officer.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the 2004 Athens gold medallist has been engaged to the Russian leader and has had his children.
Despite officially owning few assets, Putin is said to have displayed a lavish lifestyle, with the Whitehall department pointing to reports exposing links to a £566 million yacht and a $1 billion ‘Putin palace’ – officially owned by close associate, Arkady Rotenberg, who was sanctioned in December 2020.
Officials also said Russia was now in the grips of the “worst recession since the end of the Cold War” after being hit by international sanctions.
One expert said: “Well over 60 per cent of Russia’s foreign currency reserves have been frozen, there are continuing reports of Russia being on the brink of defaulting on its foreign debt and confidence in the Russian economy continues to be extremely low.
“Even even though the ruble has to some extent stabilised, estimates for Russia’s GDP growth this year range from a drop of 8.5 to 15 per cent.
“And the IMF forecast that the economy will shrink quite significantly further in 2023. This is the worst recession since the end of the Cold War. It is a huge crash for the Russian economy.”
On the fact that Russia appeared to be staving off some of the worst predictions about its economy, the official added: “We don’t share the assessment actually that Russia’s economy has been resilient.
“What you see at the moment is a kind of veneer perhaps of stabilisation. If you go to Moscow and drink coffee in a nice cafe and you may you may not witness it, but below the surface there is some real panic in the Russian economic system.
“And I think we will continue to see that play through in the coming months as some of the short run effects continue, but also the longer run effects come in as well.”
Also today, Truss urged a meeting of G7 foreign ministers to maintain sanctions against Russia until it has fully withdrawn from Ukraine.
The cabinet minister used the meeting in Germany on Thursday to urge for rolling sanctions until all troops have left the country.
She also said a “clear pathway to Nato-standard equipment” needed to remain in place for Kyiv if it was to secure long-term security in the face of Russian aggression.