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Vladimir Putin’s troops ‘whacked’ in the Donbas as he rushed them into battle too early, says UK

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ladimir Putin’s troops have been “whacked” in the Donbas after he rushed them in before many of them had recovered from previous battles, Britain said on Tuesday.

The UK’s armed forces minister James Heappey stressed the Russian president’s troops had suffered heavy losses, with hundreds reported killed in one river crossing alone.

Mr Putin has refocussed his military campaign on the Donbas region in the east of the country after his lightning invasion plan, which included seizing Kyiv within days, failed.

Thousands of Russian soldiers have been poured into the region as he seeks some form of victory in the war that he launched on February 24.

But Mr Heappey told LBC Radio: “The Russians rushed themselves into a renewed offensive in the Donbas.

“Units that were refurbishing or supposed to be refurbishing on their way around from Kyiv to come into the east of the country had really no time to refurbish at all.

“So, they came back in when they were still very battle-weary from the first days of the war and they got whacked.”

He stressed that the Russian president’s troops had been ordered to advance when the ground was muddy.

“So, all of the advantages of mass were lost,” he added.

He also highlighted a Russian attempt to cross the River Donets in the east of the country where hundreds of Mr Putin’s troops are reported to  have been killed.

“The Russians tried to cross at exactly the same point in daylight four times….that is nuts,” he explained.

He believes Mr Putin will come under increasing pressure as news of the failing campaign filters back.

“There are people in Moscow who know how badly the war is being managed,” he emphasised.

“There is a growing realisation that tens of thousands of Russians soliders are losing their lives in an operation that is defined by hubris and political interference.”

Mr Putin is allegedly now taking part himself in the operational military planning.

Britain’s most recent estimate, of a few weeks ago, is that around 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine in the conflict which is feared to have left tens of thousands of civilians dead, as well as thousands of Ukrainian troops.

Mr Heappey also told of his fears that Ukrainian forces, who have held out in the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol for weeks may be treated as “terrorists” by Russia and executed in another appalling war crime.

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