ladimir Putin’s May 9 display of military power was undermined on Monday by British defence chiefs who said his forces were having to fire “ageing” munitions in Ukraine after using up many of their precision-guided weapons.
Just hours before the Russian president was due to oversee a military parade in Moscow’s Red Square, the Ministry of Defence in London stressed the “shortcomings” of Russia’s army to carry out precision strikes “at scale”.
This failure meant Mr Putin’s generals had resorted to indiscriminate shelling and air strikes, killing thousands, if not tens of thousands of civilians in Ukraine.
May 9 is a key date in the Russian military calendar as it marks the Nazis’ surrender in the Second World War and an annual parade is held through Moscow’sRed Square.
Mr Putin was expected to deliver a major speech attempting to defend his floundering invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24, and seeking to rally his armed forces amid reports of low morale in some military units.
But early on Monday morning, the latest intelligence briefing from the MoD in London gave a damning assessment of Russian operations in Ukraine.
It said: “At the onset of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia publicly promoted its ability to conduct surgical strikes and limit collateral damage. It stated that Ukrainian cities would therefore be safe from bombardment.”
However, as the conflict continues beyond Russian pre-war expectations, Russia’s stockpile of precision-guided munitions has likely been heavily depleted.
“This has forced the use of readily available but ageing munitions that are less reliable, less accurate and more easily intercepted.“
It added: “Russia will likely struggle to replace the precision weaponry it has already expended.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed shortcomings in its ability to conduct precision strikes at scale. Russia has subjected Ukraine’s towns and cities to intense and indiscriminate bombardments with little or no regard for civilian casualties.”
After the failure of his lightning invasion plan, which included seizing Kyiv within days, MrPutin has refocused his military campaign on the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine where there are the Donetsk and Luhansk areas held by Moscow-backed separatists.
But his forces have failed to capture any major city with Ukrainian fighters in the besieged port city of Mariupol holding out in the sprawling Azovstal steelworks.Russian forces having been making a fresh attempt to capture the huge steel mill and gain control of the whole of the city.