Vladimir Putin’s ‘decimated’ forces could lose the war in Ukraine, the UK’s top military commander has suggested.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said Russia’s troops were ‘in a mess’ and the invasion was ‘not going well’.
His comments yesterday represent the most optimistic assessment yet of how the conflict may end – but came on another bleak day, with Russian forces firing on families as they fled the fighting.
When the invasion began less than a fortnight ago it was assumed to be inevitable that Russian tanks would roll into Kyiv within hours. But after a series of strategic blunders and the remarkable resistance of Ukrainian troops on the battlefield, the outcome of the campaign could now be in doubt.
Sir Tony, the former head of the Royal Navy, who was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff late last year, was speaking after eight Russian aircraft were shot down in 24 hours.
The Russians, contrary to their military doctrine, have also been forced to admit that almost 500 of their soldiers have been killed.
And in a highly embarrassing example of ineptitude, a convoy of hundreds of Russian vehicles and an estimated 15,000 troops has ground to a halt.
The column, including tanks, missile batteries and armoured
personnel carriers, had been earmarked by Putin to encircle Kyiv and pound the Ukrainians into submission.
But this operation is considered at least a month behind schedule, according to UK military sources. Given the unified approach to sanctions that the UK, US and other world powers have displayed, the Kremlin chief may not be able to sustain a military campaign for that long.
Asked on the BBC yesterday whether Russia taking over Ukraine was ‘inevitable’, Sir Tony said: ‘No. I think we’ve seen a Russian invasion that is not going well.
‘I think we’re also seeing remarkable resistance by Ukraine, both its armed forces and its people and we’re seeing the unity of the whole globe coming together, applying pressure to Russia.
‘Russia is suffering, Russia is an isolated power. It is less powerful than it was ten days ago. Some of the lead elements of Russian forces have been decimated by the Ukrainian response.
‘You’ve also seen basic failures in terms of maintenance and their kit failing. Russia hasn’t operated at this scale since the Second World War and it is incredibly complex and difficult.’
In other developments yesterday:
- Putin told French president Emmanuel Macron in a call lasting one hour and 45 minutes that Moscow would achieve its aims in Ukraine ‘either through negotiation or through war’;
- A fresh attempt to broker a ceasefire to evacuate civilians from the port of Mariupol failed after ‘Russian shelling’ resumed, according to the city council;
- Experts warned that British motorists could face even higher petrol prices after America pushed for a total ban on Russian oil imports;
- The Home Office revealed it had granted only 50 visas to Ukrainians under the UK’s family scheme by yesterday morning;
- Some 1.5million people have now escaped the country, with more than one million refugees crossing the border into Poland. n Boris Johnson faces a backbench rebellion today over new sanctions laws which critics say do not go far enough;
- The Archbishop of York hailed the generosity of Daily Mail readers as our Ukraine Appeal soared past £4million last night;
- Nearly 20,000 foreign citizens have applied to go to Ukraine to fight, according to the country’s foreign minister;
- A 72-year-old retired British colonel from the Coldstream Guards became the oldest member of the International Brigade volunteering to oppose Putin’s forces;
- More than 3,500 people were detained at protests yesterday in 49 cities across Russia against the invasion of Ukraine;
- The Prime Minister last night pledged £75million to help Ukraine’s government keep critical state functions operating.
Vladimir Putin’s ‘decimated’ forces could lose the war in Ukraine, the UK’s top military commander has suggested.
A factory and a store are burning after been bombarded in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022
Ukrainian servicemen try to help people who have been wounded in Irpin – as an increasingly delusional Putin is insisting that Russia is not bombing Ukrainian cities, despite mounting fears that 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after a cluster bomb attack on the city of Chernihiv killed 49 earlier this week. A mother and two children were killed and the father was wounded by a mortar shell as hundreds of civilians sought safety
A person who was trying to flee with his family lies on the ground after the shelling of the Russian army at the evacuation point of Irpin, several members of the same family have been killed in this attack today
Local residents run for cover as they escape from the town of Irpin, after heavy shelling from Russian troops
While Sir Tony’s view offered much needed encouragement, he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning show he feared the violence could get much worse because Russia’s tactics were failing and Putin was becoming more desperate.
In some of the most harrowing scenes of the conflict so far, at least eight civilians fleeing the town of Irpin, near Kyiv, were killed in Russian attacks alongside the suitcases they had packed for their escape.
Sir Tony said: ‘I think we’ve seen the unpredictable nature of war. This is going to be bloody. We are likely to see Russia ratcheting up the violence. We’re going to see more indiscriminate shelling, we’re going to see more ridiculous violence such as that was meted out on the Ukrainian population or attacking a nuclear power plant.
‘The world has to maintain the resolve to keep applying its pressure on Russia, because it is Putin who can bring this to an end.’
The military chief also urged Britons not to go to Ukraine to fight, contradicting Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s support for those who wanted to join the opposition to Russia.
Mr Johnson spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday and pledged to provide further defensive equipment.
Downing Street said the leaders ‘discussed the increasing threat Russia’s barbaric attacks pose to Ukrainian civilians and the Prime Minister underlined the UK’s determination to ensure Putin fails’.
The Prime Minister will today meet the Canadian and Dutch prime ministers in London for talks to champion the international response for Ukraine.
Earlier today devastating images and videos laid bare the horror of Vladimir Putin’s lawless invasion of Ukraine, as Russian troops unleashed heavy gunfire and missiles on local residents.
Heartbreaking footage, taken in Irpin, located on the outskirts of the besieged capital city Kyiv, confirmed that Russian forces are attacking heavily populated civilian areas where men, women and children are leaving the country as the Russian tyrant continues denying bombing Ukrainian cities.
One image depicted a mother and her two children lying dead on the pavement after they were killed in Irpin as they tried to flee the city, whilst their father was wounded by a mortar shell as hundreds of civilians sought safety.
It comes as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken today said there are ‘very credible reports’ that Russia has committed war crimes during its invasion of Ukraine – particularly in attacking civilians.
A second attempt to evacuate refugees from Mariupol was scuppered again today after the city was shelled just minutes into an agreed ceasefire.
Some 400,000 residents were hoped to be evacuated from 12pm today, with an initial agreement in place until 9pm, but residents are now having to take cover in bomb shelters without electricity and water.
It followed similar attempts on Saturday when plans to evacuate refugees were halted when shelling recommenced 45 minutes into a ceasefire.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said: ‘Amid devastating scenes of human suffering in Mariupol, a second attempt today to start evacuating an estimated 200,000 people out of the city came to a halt.
‘The failed attempts yesterday and today underscore the absence of a detailed and functioning agreement between the parties to the conflict.’
However, in a telephone call with French President Emmanual Macron, Putin blamed Kyiv for the failed evacuations.
Putin instead claimed ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ prevented civilians and foreign citizens from leaving the port city and neighbouring Volnovakha.
But Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky today warned that Russian forces are preparing to shell Odessa – a historic port city on the Black Sea coast.
In a video address, the Ukrainian leader said: ‘They are preparing to bomb Odessa.
A Ukrainian soldier walks past the corpses of a family lying on the ground after shelling by the Russian army at the evacuation point of Irpin, several members of the same family have been killed in this attack while trying to flee
Earlier this morning, artillery hit a queue of people outside a grocery store in the Piatykhatky neighbourhood of Kharkiv, northern Ukraine
A wife says her goodbyes to her husband who is a member of the Territorial Defence as she evacuates Irpin, Ukraine, on Sunday
A woman who has just been safely evacuated from Irpin prays for those people who have stayed in the city as it is targeted by Russian shells
People who just evacuated from Irpin rush through the checkpoint on Sunday. It is understood three civilians were killed and others were wounded as Russian mortar rounds landed between Irpin and Kyiv this morning
Former heavy weight boxing champion Vladimir Klitschko visits a blockpost near Kyiv, Ukraine, earlier today
People cross on an improvised path under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, while fleeing the town of Irpin, Ukraine, on Saturday
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) today warned that Russian forces are preparing to shell Odessa – a historic port city on the Black Sea coast
People place a man in a wheelchair in the back of an SUV after crossing on an improvised path under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, as people flee the town of Irpin, Ukraine, on Saturday
As residents continue to evacuate across cities in Ukraine, heartbreaking footage shows that civilians are being attacked with heavy gunfire and missiles in Irpin, 20 kilometres north-west of Kyiv
Many Ukrainian war refugees have taken a long and perilous journey to flee the destruction brought about by President Vladimir Putin – with 1.5 million crossing into neighbouring countries in 10 days, new stats have revealed
Yuriy, who who was shot in the leg while evacuating civilians from the shelled city of Irpin receives first aid on Sunday afternoon
Yuriy, who who was shot in the leg while bravely evacuating civilians from the shelled city of Irpin gets taken to the hospital
Ruslan from the Territorial Defense shows where a bullet came through his jacket as he gets medical help for a wound received during shelling near Irpin earlier today
Ukraine war latest: at a glance
- Boris Johnson has drawn up a six-point plan to defeat Vladimir Putin as he moves to assume leadership of global efforts to end the horror of war in Ukraine.
- A second attempt to evacuate Mariupol failed today after Ukraine accused the Russians of shelling the city as citizens attempted to flee through a ‘humanitarian corridor’.
- More than 1.5million refugees have now fled Ukraine for neighbouring countries since Vladimir Putin invaded, United Nations figures have shown.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says missiles have struck and completely destroyed Vinnytsia regional airport, and urges NATO to close the airspace and make a no-fly zone.
- The Pope deplored ‘rivers of blood’ in Ukraine as he demanded humanitarian corridors.
- Elon Musk held a video call with Volodymyr Zelensky as he promised to bolster his Starlink satellite support for the war-torn country, as he tweeted: ‘Hold strong Ukraine.’
- A Ukrainian peace negotiator is reported to have been shot dead amid claims he might have been a spy for the Russians. The reports are unconfirmed.
- French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday held new telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Elysee said.
- More than 1,700 people in cities across Russia have been detained while taking part in anti-war protests against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a monitor said, more than a week after the assault began.
- Russian pilots have been filmed saying they were ‘following orders’ after their aircraft was shot down over Ukraine.
- The deputy minister of defence for Belarus has submitted his resignation and claimed he cannot support the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- BBC World News has been taken OFF AIR in Russia – two days after Putin approved law that could lock up journalists for 15 years for spreading ‘fake information’.
‘Russians have always come to Odessa. They have always felt only warmth in Odessa. Only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa? Artillery against Odessa? Missiles against Odessa?
‘It will be a war crime. It will be a historical crime.’
Almost a million people live in Odessa, a cosmopolitan harbour on Ukraine’s southern coast with both Ukrainian and Russian speakers and Bulgarian and Jewish minorities.
Analysts have previously said that taking Odessa would be a huge strategic victory and would give Russia a chokehold on Ukraine’s economy.
Russia has made progress in southern Ukraine since its invasion 11 days ago, overrunning the city of Kherson and shelling the port of Mariupol, but Odessa has so far been largely spared.
Separately, on Sunday, the head of Kyiv-controlled Lugansk regional administration, said a train would be organised to evacuate women, children and the elderly from Lysychansk.
Lysychansk is near the frontline between Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed separatists, who are fighting to link up with the Russian forces and control the entire southeast.
If Russian forces succeed in capturing Mariupol which held out against rebel forces in the previous 2014 conflict, they will control Ukraine’s entire Azov Sea coast.
This would give them a landbridge from Russia to Russian-annexed Crimea and an important supply route and port if they decide to push north in a bid to take all of eastern Ukraine.
But although the Russian bombardment of Ukraine thus far has resulted in widespread destruction and considerable civilian casualties, Ukraine’s armed forces and territorial defence units have also inflicted major losses on Russia’s air force.
New footage shows the moment an alleged Russian jet was shot down over Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv earlier today.
Oleg Synegubov, the regional governor of Kharkiv, claimed that the Russian Su-25 fighter was destroyed by Kharkiv’s Air Defence Forces, which was later confirmed by the Kyiv Independent.
Video appears to show the plane erupt into a huge fireball as it is struck by two surface-to-air missiles (SAM) over Kharkiv’s city centre, before the twisted remains tumbled out of the sky and exploded again upon impact with the ground.
Synegubov said the plane was part of a squadron of between five and seven aircraft which have been conducting regular bombing runs over Ukraine’s second city.
Kharkiv is one of the cities worst-hit by Russian bombing campaigns in recent days, after Putin ordered his forces to engage in sustained shelling of several locations across the country.
Kyiv reported late last night that they have downed a total of 44 Russian planes and 44 helicopters in the past eleven days, providing further evidence of Russia’s failure to gain air superiority – a tactical advantage that Putin thought would be achieved on the first day of the war.
The Armed Forces Air Command reported early this morning that one Su-25 fighter, two Su-34 fighter-bombers, two Su-30 SM planes, and three helicopters were shot down yesterday alone.
Video appears to show the plane erupt into a huge fireball as it is struck by two surface-to-air missiles (SAM) over Kharkiv’s city centre, before the twisted remains tumbled out of the sky and exploded again upon impact with the ground
The burnt out remains of a building destroyed by Russian army shelling in the second largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, in the east of the country on March 6, 2022. Kharkiv is one of the cities worst-hit by Russian bombing campaigns in recent days, after Putin ordered his forces to engage in sustained shelling of several locations across the country
A young woman reacts as she crouches near the lifeless body of a man killed in a Russian rocket attack in Kharkiv earlier today
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Moscow has pummelled Ukrainian cities, with officials reporting hundreds of civilians killed. Europe’s largest atomic power plant has even come under attack sparking fears of a catastrophic nuclear accident. But Russia has so far only seized two key cities, Berdiansk and Kherson on Ukraine’s southern Black Sea coast.
Raab rules out no-fly zone in Ukraine
Dominic Raab again ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying this would lead to a ‘massive escalation’ and would feed into the Russian president’s narrative.
He told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme: ‘We’re not going to get ourselves into a direct military conflict with Putin because that would be a massive escalation, but also that feeds Putin’s narrative.
‘Putin wants to say that he’s actually in a struggle with the west – he’s not’.
He called no-fly zones ‘very difficult, very challenging’ and said ‘we will do everything short of that to support Ukrainians’.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party supports the Government but he wants to see them going ‘further and faster’.
Sir Keir told ITV News: ‘Everybody understands why we can’t have a no-fly zone, why direct military assistance is not possible. That means sanctions have to be the strongest we have ever seen, the most effective we’ve ever seen. And in order for sanctions to work, you need to know what property the oligarchs have got here in the United Kingdom.
Capturing Mariupol represents a bigger prize for Russian forces as it would deal a severe blow to Ukraine’s maritime access and connect with troops coming from annexed Crimea and the Donbas.
While the vast Russian armoured column threatening Ukraine’s capital remained stalled outside Kyiv, Putin’s military has launched hundreds of missiles and artillery attacks on cities and other sites across the country.
More than 840 children have been wounded in the war, and 28 have been killed, according to Ukraine’s government. A total of 331 civilians had been confirmed killed but the true number is probably much higher, the UN human rights office said.
Some 200,000 civilians were set to leave Mariupol and a further 15,000 from Volnovakha at 7am (UK time) as part of a temporary ceasefire deal overseen by the Red Cross on Saturday.
Under the agreement, the refugees had five hours to flee the cities and evacuate westwards along humanitarian corridors.
But just 400 refugees managed to flee Volnovakha before the ceasefire was shattered. It is unclear how many – if any – families escaped Mariupol.
The total number of people fleeing Russia’s invasion reached 1.5 million in just ten days on Sunday, making it Europe’s ‘fastest growing refugee crisis’ since World War Two, the United Nations said.
In comments carried on Ukrainian television, Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko said thousands of people had gathered for safe passage out of the city and buses were departing when shelling began.
‘We value the life of every inhabitant of Mariupol and we cannot risk it, so we stopped the evacuation,’ he said.
Before Russia announced the ceasefire, Ukraine had urged Moscow to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the older adults to flee the fighting, calling them ‘question number one’.
The UK’s Ministry of Defence later said the ceasefire offer was likely to have been a ploy to distract attention away from it resetting its forces for a renewed attack.
Ukrainian authorities accused the Russians of the shelling, but Moscow’s defence ministry accuses the city’s defenders of exploiting a ‘human shield’.
It comes as supply issues and logistical problems have been plaguing Russian advances for a number of days as Ukrainian forces continue to put up stiff resistance and hold key cities.
As the slow progress infuriates Putin, Moscow has been forced to deny it is targeting civilian areas.
Dominic Raab said today that Putin’s army leaders in Ukraine could join him in jail for war crimes if they follow ‘illegal orders’ – as he warned the conflict could drag on for years.
The Deputy Prime Minister said economic sanctions had ‘put the squeeze’ on the Russia leader, which was forcing him to use ‘evermore brutal tactics’ to achieve a quick result.
Britain has already called for Mr Putin to face warn crimes prosecution, with reports of illegal weapons like cluster bombs and possibly thermobaric weapons being used.
Appearing on television this morning Mr Raab said Ukrainian forces have ‘proved a far tougher prospect than Putin expected’ and that military commanders could also be prosecuted if they did not refuse orders.
‘I think we ought to be under no doubt that our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine, and it’s going to take some time,’ Mr Raab said.
‘We’re talking about months, if not years, and therefore we will have to show some strategic stamina because this is not going to be over in days.’
He added: ‘For all of those commanders on the ground right through to the people around Putin in the Kremlin, what they do now, whether they give or whether they follow illegal orders to commit war crimes, they will be held to account for it, and they need to know that.’
Mr Raab also again ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying this would lead to a ‘massive escalation’ and would feed into the Russian president’s narrative.
Since Russia invaded on February 24, Moscow has pummelled Ukrainian cities, with officials reporting hundreds of civilians killed. Europe’s largest atomic power plant has even come under attack sparking fears of a catastrophic nuclear accident
People lie on the floor of a hospital during shelling by Russian forces in Mariupol on Saturday, when efforts to evacuate residents were scuppered by bombing
A man with a child in his arms at the Porubne border crossing on Saturday
A child wrapped in a blanket and woolly hat attempts to keep warm as his family waits to cross the border into Poland
Refugees wrapped in blankets try to keep warm as they try to escape the ongoing conflict in Ukraine
Refugees, mostly women with children, arrive at the border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on Sunday
His appearance followed Putin’s warning yesterday that ongoing resistance is putting Ukrainian statehood in jeopardy and sanctions imposed by the West sanctions are akin to ‘declaring war’.
He continued to pin the blame for the war squarely on the Ukrainian leadership and slammed their resistance to the invasion.
The Russian leader said: ‘If they continue to do what they are doing, they are calling into question the future of Ukrainian statehood. And if this happens, it will be entirely on their conscience.’
He also hit out at Western sanctions that have crippled Russia’s economy and sent the value of its currency tumbling.
Putin added: ‘These sanctions that are being imposed, they are akin to declaring war. But thank God, we haven’t got there yet.’
But Russia’s financial system suffered yet another blow late on Saturday as Mastercard and Visa announced they were suspending operations in the country.
It comes as some of Putin’s own soldiers remarkable called on Russia to stop the war yesterday.
At a press conference in Kyiv, captured Russian troops condemned the mission and called on their fellow citizens to rally against the conflict.
The stricken Mi-24 plummets to the earth, hitting the ground nose-first, with all her pilots and navigators feared killed
The stricken Mi-24 plummets to the earth, hitting the ground nose-first, with all her pilots and navigators feared killed
The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday UKRAINE REFUGEE APPEAL
Readers of Mail Newspapers have always shown immense generosity at times of crisis.
Calling upon that human spirit, we are now launching an appeal to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.
For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from Russia’s invading armed forces.
As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of a tyrant will require accommodation, schools and medical support.
All donations to the Mail Ukraine Appeal will be distributed to charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.
In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.
TO MAKE A DONATION ONLINE
Via bank transfer, please use these details:
Account name: Associated Newspapers
Account number: 20769512
Sort code: 50-00-00
TO MAKE A DONATION VIA CHEQUE
Make your cheque payable to ‘Mail Newspapers – Ukraine Appeal’ and post it to: Mail Newspapers Ukraine Appeal, GFM, 42 Phoenix Court, Hawkins Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 8JY
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Andrey Chuvatarevsky, a soldier who served on a contract basis in the Moscow region, said: ‘Russians, do everything possible to stop this war. Neither Ukraine nor Russia needs this war. Only Putin needs this war.
‘Try to inform the President, drive the military away from the equipment so that they don’t drive and bomb the civilian population. If you take to the streets, the President will decide to withdraw the troops. Then there will be no war.’
Fellow captured soldier Mikhail Kulikov warned that Ukrainian children were suffering: ‘People of Russia, stand up. Your children are here. Children of the Ukrainian people are also suffering here. There is no need to be afraid.
‘The Ukrainian people are not afraid of anyone. They will stand up for their land to the last. I also have two small children at home, to whom I do not know if I will get. Parents, block the roads, do not let your children go, do everything to make the Russian troops turn back.’
The two men were among ten soldiers who spoke at a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine yesterday. They had voluntarily surrendered and each noted that they had received good treatment and the chance to contact their relatives.
It comes as new figures from the UN have confirmed that more than 1.5million refugees have now fled war-torn Ukraine since Russia invaded.
Many Ukrainian war refugees have taken a long and perilous journey to flee the destruction brought about by President Vladimir Putin – with 1.5 million crossing into neighbouring countries in 10 days.
It comes as the UN High Commissioner for Refugee Agency, Filippo Grandi, called it the ‘fastest growing crisis in Europe since World War II’, as it was revealed mostly women and children are arriving at the borders.
Mr Grandi tweeted yesterday morning: ‘More than 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed into neighbouring countries in 10 days — the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.’
UNCHR communications chief Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams added: ‘The rate of this exodus is quite phenomenal. We know that there are many more on the move. Also there are possibly equal numbers inside the country that are internally displaced.’
Meanwhile, the number of war refugees who have travelled to Poland from Ukraine is set to reach one million today as Polish border guards revealed there have been record arrivals.
They cleared as many as 129,000 people at border crossings on Saturday in a single day – taking their total to 922,400.
A nation of some 38 million people, Poland is receiving the largest number of refugees among Ukraine’s neighbors. Some who entered Poland have continued to other countries.
The head of the United Nations’ refugee agency said Sunday that more than 1.5 million refugees have crossed from Ukraine into neighboring countries since Russia invaded.
Romania’s border police say more than 227,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Romania in total since the crisis began and more than 155,000 of them have already left the country.
During a visit on Saturday to Romania’s northern border at Siret, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that ‘no Ukrainian will be denied entry into Romania.’
He said Romanian authorities believe that the situation ‘will continue for a long time, and the complications will worsen.’
The president added: ‘We believe that this humanitarian catastrophe will spread, that a lot of help will be needed here, but also in Ukraine.’