Russia lacks munitions, troops for big Ukraine offensive, says NATO official

WASHINGTON — Russia lacks the munitions and troops to start a major offensive in Ukraine and needs to secure significant ammunition supplies from other countries beyond what it already has, a senior NATO official said on Tuesday.

The official told a briefing with reporters on condition of anonymity that Russian President Vladimir Putin was conducting a covert campaign in Europe of assassination plots, sabotage and arson to undermine the public’s support for Ukraine.

“What we see today are still very high Russian losses. Russia is attempting to take ground. We’ve seen Ukrainian defenses improve significantly,” the NATO official said.

He estimated that Russia would be able to sustain its war economy for three to four more years.

Kyiv’s forces have been on the back foot on the battlefield for months as Moscow’s troops maintain heavy offensive pressure and advance slowly in the east of Ukraine.

NATO begins a three-day summit in Washington on Tuesday that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is attending more than 28 months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

The official said “it will be some time” before Ukraine has amassed the munitions and personnel it needs to mount new large-scale offensive operations.

“We are seeing they’re improving day by day,” he added.

Covert campaign

NATO has responded to Russia’s covert campaign to undermine European support for Ukraine by issuing two statements alerting Moscow that the alliance is aware of what it is doing, the official said.

It has also significantly increased intelligence-sharing among alliance members so “we have a common picture of what’s happening,” the official said.

“The very first thing that you have to do when you’re pushing back against something that Vladimir Putin believes is below the threshold…is to show him that we know what’s happening,” he said.

He also singled what he said was China’s continuing provision of “critical enabling pieces” for drones, missiles and the Russian defense industry.

The official said that Putin “still thinks time is on his side” and is willing to endure “truly staggering numbers of military casualties.” Russia was recruiting about 30,000 troops per month, allowing it to sustain large battlefield losses, he said. — Reuters

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