Russian troops abandon taking more land as Putin hell bent on defence

Putin appears to limp amidst speculation over his health

Russia has effectively stopped trying to claim more Ukrainian territory and is now hell bent on defending its positions, as Putin’s forces brace for a fierce counteroffensive, the head of military intelligence in Kyiv has said. Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate, said Russian troops were deploying all of their offensive operations into taking the battered city of Bakhmut.

Major General Budanov, 37, did not disclose details about President Zelensky’s battle plans, but assured that the much-discussed spring offensive will be a “landmark battle in Ukraine’s history”.

This comes following the head of the notorious Wagner group of mercenaries, Yevgeny Prighozin, declaring his troops have taken Bakhmut earlier this month.

However the city has not yet fallen and is still the scene of brutal fighting.

An emboldened Budanov mocked Prighozin in his latest interview with RBC Ukraine, claiming that the Kremlin had nothing significant to boast about at a cost of huge losses.

According to the MailOnline, Budanov claimed the Russian military leadership is employing similar Bakhmut tactics in the cities of Avdiivka and Marinka. Both cities are also in the embattled Donetsk region – Russian forces are still yet to break through.

Budanov said that Putin’s troops “have completely switched to positional defense everywhere”.

He said: “The only places on the frontline where they are making attempts are in the city of Bakhmut, an attempt to cover the city of Avdiivka from the north, and localized fighting in the city of Marinka.

“Both in Avdiivka and Marinka the tactics are identical to those in Bakhmut – just an attempt to wipe the settlement off the face of the earth, as they say”.

Images of the two cities showed brutal devastation caused by regular shelling.

Budanov then began to speculate about the pressure the Kremlin would come under at home given the poor progress of the war.

He said: “Against the backdrop of the lack of success elsewhere, they face the problem that even their ‘deceived’ society needs to see something, some kind of victory.

“This is the only place where they succeed at least. In addition, there is the fact that Prigozhin once said that he would take Bakhmut.

“He would be happy to sing about it, but he can’t. That is, everything just came together here”.

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