Ukraine: Retired colonel highlights ‘huge problem’
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Ukrainian military forces have continued to defend Luhansk from Russian control as Putin’s troops have moved to surround the defending soldiers.
Military strategic risk expert Cedric Leighton has warned the Ukrainian troops are running out of time to withdraw from the region as Russian troops now occupy 20 percent of Ukraine.
Retired colonel Mr Leighton suggested the situation in the Donbas now presents a “huge problem” for the defensive front as Ukraine risks losing a large portion of its military to Putin’s advance.
Speaking to CNN, the military analyst said: “The only part that the Ukrainian’s control, of this area, is this part that is right around Severodonetsk and just north of the town of Popasna.”
Mr Leighton continued: “What that means in Severodonetsk, this critical junction, is one of the areas where the Ukrainians are going to need to either keep this, if they want to keep this controlled, but the other problem they have is it’s very easy for the russians to cut them off at this particular point.
“If the Russians do that, the Ukrainian forces here risk being surrounded and that is going to be a huge problem for them.”
Mr Leighton described the situation in Severodonetsk, a city in the Luhansk area of the Donbas region as “critical”.
The UK Ministry of Defence has said “Russia is now achieving tactical success in the Donbas. Russian forces have generated and maintained momentum and currently appear to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition.”
CNN host Wolf Blitzer asked: “So what do you think the risk is of these Ukrainian troops being encircled there?”
Mr Leighton responded: “Very high and the Ukrainians have to be very careful to conserve their forces.
“If they don’t conserve their forces they are going to lose a large portion of their military and that would be disastrous for their war effort.”
Russian forces have refocused military aggression in the east of Ukraine as Putin moves to conquer the Donbas region in wake of the failed siege on Kyiv.
Read more: Kremlin ‘mistaken’ after ordering ‘immediate’ Ukrainian surrender
Mr Blitzer asked: “So you think there is a limited window, right now, where the Ukrainians could potentially withdraw?”
Mr Leighton continued: “They still have an open path back into the Ukrainian controlled areas.
“If they do that then they will have an opportunity to save that portion of their army.
“That’s going to be critical.
“If they don’t do that, they risk losing that army and that, of course, would be a major blow for them.”
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The war has now entered the 100th day of fighting as the conflict in Ukraine drags on with Putin’s refusal to end Russian aggression.
Defence intelligence acknowledged “Russian forces failed to achieve their initial objectives to seize Kyiv and Ukrainian centres of government.”
However, the UK Ministry of Defence said: “Russia controls over 90 percent of Luhansk Oblast and is likely to complete control in the next two weeks.”
Once Putin has established control over the whole of Luhanks, Russian forces are expected to take a short pause before expanding into the Donetsk region of the Donbas.
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