UK military advisor, Ian Stubbs, says Russian military leaders have sacrificed military units and squandered strategic resources for small tactical gains.
Thank you, Mr Chair. Over the past week, we have seen intensive combat as Russia continues its grinding offensive in the Donbas. Russia is suffering extremely heavy casualty rates. Since May last year, between 20 – 30,000 Wagner and regular Russian forces have been killed and wounded in the area around Bakhmut alone – a huge loss of human life for a total territorial advance of approximately just 25km. That is over 800 Russian personnel killed or wounded for each kilometre gained, the vast majority of them Wagner fighters.
In the face of these losses, Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin is finding it increasingly difficult to resupply what he has termed the “meat grinder” in eastern Ukraine. Earlier this month, Wagner set up outreach teams based in sports centres in at least 40 locations across Russia. In recent days, masked Wagner recruiters have even given career talks in Moscow high schools, distributing questionnaires entitled “application of a young warrior” to collect the contact details of interested pupils. One wonders if these schoolchildren know that about half of the prisoners Wagner has already deployed in Ukraine have likely become casualties. These new initiatives are unlikely to make up for the losses they are experiencing, nor respond to the challenges of maintaining the scale or intensity of Wagner operations in Ukraine.
Mr Chair, on 09 March, Russia conducted another barbaric wave of long-range strikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure. The attack involved at least 80 projectiles, including cruise missiles, air defence missiles in a surface-surface mode, Iranian one-way attack UAVs, and an unusually large number of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. This was the first major wave of long-range strikes since 16 February and was one of the largest since December last year. The longer interval between these waves of strikes is probably because Russia now needs to stockpile a critical mass of newly produced missiles directly from industry before it can resource a strike big enough to credibly overwhelm Ukrainian air defences. It appears that Russia’s stockpiles and supplies for these cruel acts of vengeance against Ukraine’s people are running low.
Mr Chair, the Russian military supply issues are just as acute at the front line. Russia has suffered huge heavy armoured vehicle losses forcing it to deploy 60-year-old T-62 main battle tanks onto the frontline. Since summer 2022, approximately 800 antiquated T-62s have been taken out from storage. More recently, Russian BTR-50 armoured personnel carriers have also been deployed in Ukraine, vintage vehicles which were first fielded into the Russian military in 1954.
This all poses the obvious question, why is Russia’s much vaunted new generation of military hardware absent from the battlefield? The truth is, Russia’s over hyped new generation T14 Armata Main Battle Tank is proving a white elephant, barely capable of taking part in a parade let alone performing on the battlefields of Ukraine. And, the Russian air force has so little confidence in the Su57 5th generation multi-role aircraft that they dare not operate it over Ukraine.
Mr Chair, what we have detailed today demonstrates a spectacular lack of Russian military competence that has had a devastating impact on Russia’s own people, Russia’s military prestige and Russia’s reputation – one which will last for generations. Russia’s military leaders have: sacrificed military units, equipment and soldiers; squandered strategic resources for small tactical gains; and doubled-down on flawed strategy and tactics in desperate attempts to save face. Everyone can see the truth. Russia’s military and its defence industry are failing in Ukraine.
Mr Chair, Ukraine has turned the tide in this war, regaining territory and liberating thousands of Ukrainian people. Ukraine has done this thanks to the awe-inspiring bravery of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the resilience of the Ukrainian people and overwhelming international support. The UK has been unwavering in its support for the people of Ukraine as they resist Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion. Last year the UK provided £2.3bn in military aid to Ukraine. Together, with our Allies and partners, we are ensuring that Ukraine will win. Ukraine can rely on continued steadfast support from the UK and other partners. We will keep the promises we have made to the Ukrainian people and will give them all the help they need, for as long as it takes, until Ukraine prevails. Giving Ukraine the support it needs to defend itself and push Russia out of Ukraine’s sovereign territory is the swiftest and only path to a just and lasting peace. Thank you.