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‘Disorganised’ Russian retreat highlights severe shortage of troops, says UK

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Ukraine has forced Russian soldiers into a disorganised retreat from the southern flank of Bakhmut where it launched a full-frontal operation a year ago.

According to British military intelligence, the “bad order” withdrawal highlights a “severe shortage of credible combat units”.

This confirms reports from the Ukrainian military earlier this week that they had regained a kilometre of land around the key city as Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade retreated from their positions.

The Ministry of Defence update indicates wider implications for President Vladimir Putin’s men.

It described the 72 SMRB as a formation “dogged with allegations of poor morale and limited combat effectiveness”.

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"It’s deployment to such a demanding and operationally important sector highlights Russia’s severe shortage of credible combat units,” the UK MoD said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Wire)

War-ravaged Bakhmut has been has become a highly symbolic battleground for both Russian and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to show their domestic and international audiences a victory.

The withdrawal of the 72 SMRB has “some tactical significance” too, said the MoD.

It added: “It was a Russian bridgehead on the western side of the Donets-Donbas Canal, which marks the front line through parts of the sector.”

On Saturday, Zelensky arrived in Italy and is due to meet Pope Francis, as well as Italian premier Giorgia Meloni, who backs military and other aid for Ukraine, and President Sergio Mattarella.