How Vladimir Putin’s invasion is crumbling for Russia’s ‘demoralized’ troops

A convoy advancing toward Kyiv from the north is said to have become stuck in mud as snow has thawed, while demoralised Russian troops are braced for battle in temperatures set to drop to minus 20C later this week.

The Russians have also suffered heavy losses on the ground and in the air with Ukrainian soldiers blowing up tanks and jets with the help of rockets given to them by Britain and Western allies.

Here we look at how the war has so far unfolded for Putin:

Every day brings footage of Russian fighter jets and helicopter gunships being blown out of the sky – as many as eight in 24 hours recently. Such losses seem to defy logic given the scale and apparent sophistication of Moscow’s forces.

Putin assumed he could achieve air supremacy on day one. A fortnight later, Ukraine’s S-300 ground-to-air missile system remains operational and effective.

Consequently, Russia’s aircraft are vulnerable to ground-to-air fire – not something they experienced while carpet-bombing cities in Syria. Experts also suggest Russia’s air force could be experiencing ammunition shortages after that campaign.

Russia’s reliance on artillery is problematic. Combining artillery and aircraft in the same battlespace requires cohesion, communication and most importantly practice. Yet Russia has not practised this. So we see aircraft in small numbers and only when there’s no ground fire. Is Putin perhaps holding back his best aircraft to attack the Baltic states?

Unlikely. Defeat in Ukraine would be terminal for Russia as a military superpower and terminal for Putin personally. He cannot afford to be distracted by ‘the next campaign’ – in particular when his army is also misfiring so badly, with its heavy losses of tanks, armoured vehicles, air defence systems and thousands of soldiers.

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