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Russia’s Forces Making ‘No Progress’ in Key Offensive: Former Commander

Russian forces are seeing “no progress” in a key offensive as they seek to make advances in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to ex-Russian commander Igor Girkin.

Girkin, a self-described Russian nationalist who rose to prominence during Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, posted the latest updates from the front lines of the Ukraine war on Telegram late Saturday. Although Girkin has war voiced support for the goals of the Ukraine, he has become increasingly critical of Kremlin leadership as the invasion stalled since being launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin last February.

After more than a year of the Russia-Ukraine war, fighting remains largely concentrated in Eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk, one of the two regions that comprise the Donbas, as Putin’s troops struggled to attain substantial victories. Russian troops are aiming to take control of several cities in this region, including Avdiivka. Last week, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense wrote that Russia has made “creeping gains” in the city.

However, Russia’s progress in Avdiivka appears to be slowing, according to Girkin.

“There has been no progress in the last two days. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also suffer heavy losses, but … this battle is beneficial for them. Because it allows their troops to fight, relying on defensive structures that have been built for almost 9 years,” Girkin wrote in his Telegram post.

He also pointed to Russia’s attempts to attack “with insufficient forces day after day” as the reason for the slowed invasion. Girkin took aim at military leadership over their handling of fighting in the city.

“Our brilliant military leaders are ruining (without quotes) the last remnants of the combat-ready Donetsk infantry, diluted with Russian volunteers and mobilized,” he wrote.

Still, he said he believes Russian troops are making more advances in Bakhmut, the site of some of the most intense fighting of the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Our fighters are ‘squeezing out’ the enemy, ‘whom their commanders were unable to either surround or force to leave the city without a fight,” he wrote. “And the enemy has not yet counterattacked with serious forces.”

Russian authorities have pointed to Bakhmut to counter the narrative that their invasion in recent months stalled due to widespread issues within their military. Russian troops, bolstered by support from the paramilitary Wagner Group, have managed to make a play for the city, engaging Ukraine in a bloody fight.

Despite Girkin’s statement, others have indicated that Russian efforts to take the city have slowed. British intelligence suggested the number of new Russian offenses in the city dropped due to a “depletion” of troops earlier in March. On Saturday, the British Ministry of Defense wrote that the slower progress was caused by an “extreme attrition of the Russian force.”

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment via email.

Russian forces are seeing “no progress” in a key offensive as they seek to make advances in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to ex-Russian commander Igor Girkin.

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