'Exhausted' Russia on brink of caving on peace talks as 'deep freeze' war prospect looms

Russia has been waging a brutal war against Ukraine since February 24, refusing to bow to international pressure despite most of the Western world offering up military and monetary aid to Kyiv. Retired General Lord Dannatt suggested the Russian campaign in the Donbass could mark the end of the active attempt to advance, with Moscow potentially agreeing to peace talks if the war evolves into a “deep freeze”. The former British Army chief suggested Russian troops will then be “exhausted” and this could also play in Ukraine’s hands and help secure a ceasefire.

Lord Dannatt told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “We’re going to see that slow grind continue.

“They very nearly achieved taking the Luhansk province, and then they will turn their sight to try and get control of Donetsk.

“I think, probably, what we’ve seen over the past few weeks shows over the next few weeks and days, they will achieve that.

“At that stage, I believe the Russians will be exhausted.”

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He continued: “They won’t have won the war, but they will have achieved some of what they wanted to achieve, getting those two Donbass provinces. 

“Ukrainians will also be exhausted so the Russians won’t have won, the Ukrainians won’t have lost.

“At that point, I think the war will effectively go into the deep freeze and that’s when meaningful negotiations are going to have to start.”

Moscow has been attempting to drive Ukrainian forces out of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces in Donbass, where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Kyiv since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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Kyiv says Moscow has intensified missile attacks on cities far from the main eastern battlefields, accusing Russia of deliberately hitting civilian sites.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and cities levelled since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what Ukraine its Western allies say is an unprovoked war of aggression.

The Kremlin denies targeting civilians in what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” its neighbour.

Russian forces seized Lysychansk’s sister city Sievierodonetsk, on the opposite side of the Siverskiy Donets river, last month after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

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Russian forces on Saturday claimed to have destroyed five Ukrainian army command posts in the Donbass and in the Mykolaiv region with high-precision weapons and also struck three storage sites in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The ministry, cited by Russian news agencies, also said the Russian air force had struck a Ukrainian weapons and equipment base at a tractor factory in Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine.

In Russian-occupied Sievierodonetsk, residents have emerged from basements to sift through the rubble of their city.

Sergei Oleinik, 65, told Reuters: “Almost all the city infrastructure is destroyed. We are living without gas, electricity, and water since May.

“We are glad that this ended, and soon maybe reconstruction will start, and we will be back to more or less normal life.”

source: express.co.uk