The head of the UK’s armed forces has said Russia has already “strategically lost” the war in Ukraine and is now a “more diminished power”.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said Russia was suffering heavy losses, running out of troops and advanced missiles and would never be able to take over all of Ukraine.
“This is a dreadful mistake by Russia. Russia will never take control of Ukraine,” Tony Radakin told PA Media in an interview published on Friday.
The country’s highest-ranking military officer said the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had lost 25% of Russia’s land power for only “tiny” gains and it would emerge a “more diminished power” while strengthening Nato.
“Russia has strategically lost already. Nato is stronger, Finland and Sweden are looking to join,” he said.
Radakin said that while Putin may achieve “tactical successes” in the weeks to come, it had come at the expense of a quarter of his country’s army power for “tiny” gains and was running out of troops and hi-tech missiles.
“The Russian machine is grinding away, and it’s gaining a couple of – two, three, five – kilometres every day,” the admiral said.
“And Russia has vulnerabilities because it’s running out of people, it’s running out of hi-tech missiles.
“President Putin has used about 25% of his army’s power to gain a tiny amount of territory and 50,000 people either dead or injured. Russia is failing.”
Radakin’s claims echo British intelligence reports, the latest of which said some Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) – typically established at about 600 to 800 personnel – have only been able to muster as few as 30 soldiers.
Although Russia is achieving tactical success in the Donbas, these recent successes have come at “significant resource cost” and by concentrating force and fires on a single part of the overall campaign.
“Measured against Russia’s original plan, none of the strategic objectives have been achieved. In order for Russia to achieve any form of success will require continued huge investment of manpower and equipment, and is likely to take considerable further time,” a report read.
Against a backdrop of seemingly universal criticism of Russia’s near four-month campaign from the west, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, gave an interview with the BBC on Thursday.
“We didn’t invade Ukraine,” he claimed. “We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the west that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act.”
Responding to an official UN report detailing alleged war crimes against civilians committed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian village of Yahidne, in Chernihiv region, Lavrov was asked if that was “fighting Nazis”.
“It’s a great pity,” Lavrov said, “but international diplomats, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN secretary general and other UN representatives, are being put under pressure by the west. And very often they’re being used to amplify fake news spread by the west.
“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said Russia ‘declared a special military operation’ because it had ‘absolutely no other way of explaining to the west that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act’. Photograph: Alexei Nikolsky/APAddressing Moscow’s relations with the UK, Lavrov maintained he no longer believed there was any “room for manoeuvre”.
“Because both [Boris] Johnson and [Liz] Truss say openly that we should defeat Russia, we should force Russia to its knees. Go on, then, do it!”
The Kremlin on Thursday warned against new western weapons supplies to Ukraine as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, and the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, visited Kyiv.
“I would like to hope that the leaders of these three states and the president of Romania will not only focus on supporting Ukraine by further pumping Ukraine with weapons,” said the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, adding it would be “absolutely useless and will cause further damage to the country”.