August 8, 2022

British intelligence chief says Russia is about to 'run out of momentum' in Ukraine

British intelligence chief says Russia is about to ‘run out of momentum’ in Ukraine

A destroyed Russian T-72 tank is seen in a field unusable for agricultural purposes due to the presence of unexploded shells and mines, as Russia’s offensive on Ukraine continues near the village of Budi, Chernihiv region of Ukraine, July 5, 2022. REUTERS/Valentin Ogirenko

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Aspen, Colorado, July 21 (Reuters) – Britain’s intelligence chief said on Thursday the Russian military is likely to start an operational pause of some sort in Ukraine in the coming weeks, giving Kyiv a key opportunity to respond.

Richard Moore, the head of the secret intelligence service known as MI6, has also estimated that about 15,000 Russian soldiers have died so far in its war in Ukraine, adding that this “may have been a conservative estimate.”

“I think they’re about to run out of force,” Moore said, addressing the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, adding that the Russian military will find it increasingly difficult to supply manpower and materiel over the next few weeks.

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“They will have to stop somehow, and this will give the Ukrainians opportunities to respond.”

Nearly five months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Kyiv has been hoping that Western weapons, especially long-range missiles such as the US HIMARS deployed by Kyiv in recent weeks, will allow it to launch a counterattack in the coming weeks and reclaim Russian-occupied territories.

Moore stressed Ukraine’s need to show that the war was winnable – both to keep Ukraine’s morale high but also to bolster the West as concerns grow about energy shortages in Europe over the coming winter.

“I think it’s important for the Ukrainians themselves to show they can respond,” Moore said. “And I think that will be very important for their continued high spirits.”

“I also think, frankly, that this will be an important reminder to the rest of Europe that this is a campaign that can be won by the Ukrainians. Because we are about to enter a very difficult winter and … I don’t want to sound like a character from ‘Game of Thrones.’ But winter is coming. .

“And obviously in this atmosphere with the pressure on the gas supply and all that’s left, we’re having a hard time,” Moore said.

The potential for a Russian disruption to European energy supplies is one of the greatest global economic and political risks arising from the war. European countries fear they could face shortages next winter, if Russia cuts off deliveries during the warm months when it usually replenishes storage tanks.

Moore said the outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has been felt mainly in poor rural communities, and that Putin has not yet recruited troops for the conflict from middle-class areas of Saint Petersburg or Moscow.

“These are poor children from rural areas of Russia. They are from blue-collar towns in Siberia. They are disproportionately from ethnic minorities. This is his feed,” Moore said.

Asked if he was aware of Putin’s health, Moore said: “There is no evidence that Putin suffers from serious ill health.”

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(Phil Stewart reports). Editing by Jonathan Otis

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