April 9th 2022
Russian forces have abandoned vast numbers of tanks and artillery in a ‘hasty’ withdrawal from northern Ukraine, a western official has said.
The rapid retreat is said to be a sign morale among Vladimir Putin’s troops has ‘collapsed’ and they no longer have ‘the will to fight’.
Russian forces have been withdrawing from northern Ukraine and towns and cities around the capital of Kyiv, for several days.
However, as they have left the area horrendous reports of civilians being massacred, buried in mass graves and tortured, raped or burned have emerged.
Troops have been accused of committing war crimes in Bucha before they left the town on March 30, and it is feared as many as 300 people may have been killed in Borodyanka.
The Kremlin is widely believed to be withdrawing from the north so it can focus its efforts on the southeast of Ukraine.
During a press conference on Wednesday, a western official told reporters Russia has now completely withdrawn from the north.
‘We can confirm that there are no longer units in northern Ukraine,’ they said.
The unnamed official described the withdrawal as ‘hasty’ with ‘a lot’ of tanks, vehicles, and artillery left behind.
‘It has been a pretty hasty withdrawal by Russian forces and there’s a lot of Russian equipment which has been abandoned,’ they said.
‘That’s only going to exacerbate the challenge they have in terms of the refurbishment and reconstitution of their forces as they remove them both into Belarus and into Russia.’
‘Some of it’s kind of unclear as to why it’s been abandoned because you might have thought there is some of these vehicles are still usable and you think they would have been able to take and I think there’s something around the collapse of morale and the collapse of the will to fight.’
The comments come as a senior US defence official said on Friday that the Pentagon believes some of Russia’s retreating units were so badly damaged they are ‘for all intents and purposes eradicated’.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments.
They said the US believes Russia has lost between 15% and 20% of its combat power overall since the war began.
While some combat units are withdrawing to be resupplied in Russia, Moscow has added thousands of troops around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, he said.
The comments come as a spokesperson for the Kremlin admitted Russia has suffered a ‘significant’ loss of troops in Ukraine.
NATO estimates between 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers died in the first six weeks of the war, while Ukraine puts the toll at 18,600.
The last toll announced by the Kremlin was 1,351 on March 25, and as of Wednesday, official Russian sources had published the names of 1,083 dead servicemen.
Amid the reports of heavy losses to Russian forces and low morale, there have also been several reports of Russian troops refusing to obey orders to attack.
An elite paratrooper unit is said to have staged a mutiny and refused to fight in Ukraine, resulting in the battalion being withdrawn to Belarus.
The incident came after reports of elite OMON special forces from Khakassia refusing to take up arms and troops from unofficial statelet South Ossetia allegedly returning to their homes on foot after refusing to fight.
While in March, a Russian commander was killed by his own troops who ran him over with a tank.
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