Inside Putin's disastrous Ukraine invasion on 100th day with 30k dead in biggest military catastrophe of modern history

VLADIMIR Putin's deadly war in Ukraine is at a bloody stalemate 100 days in, but experts warn that Russia is running out of troops and modern military equipment.

Putin's troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, and in the weeks and months since the conflict began, more than twice as many Russian soldiers have died than in the 10 years of the Soviet-Afghan War.



At the beginning of the fighting, it was feared Russia would sweep through Ukraine in a matter of days, as Vlad's men looked to seize the strategically vital Hostomel Airfield on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv.

Russian paratroopers tried twice to storm President Zelensky's compound and assassinate him, although Ukraine's head of state shared a defiant video showing he was still in the capital.

Putin's forces looked to seize control of Mariupol early on, establishing a land corridor between occupied Donetsk and the annexed territory of Crimea, but quickly became bogged down.

By the end of March, Russia had drastically altered its military strategy, moving its troops away from Kyiv and concentrating on the east of the country.

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As the Russians fled, Ukraine's forces discovered evidence of horrific war crimes in surrounding towns such as Bucha and Irpin.

Much of the past month has seen fighting take place over incredibly small areas of land, with Russian troops withdrawing from Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv, but finally taking the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where several hundred brave troops had put up a heroic final defence.

Today, with the war's 100th day, an expert has claimed that the conflict has reached a "state of attrition".

Speaking to The Sun Online, Swedish economist and Russia expert Anders Aslund said: "At the 100-day mark, the war is at a stalemate."

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He went on: "Ukraine has all the soldiers it can possibly need. It can mobilise up to one million men.

"Russia, on the other hand, has a shortage of soldiers. Because this is not technically a war, Putin cannot legally send in conscripts.

"They are sending in more troops anyway, but they get around this by calling them contractor soldiers.

"However, if Putin did try to change the law, to force conscription, there would be massive opposition.

"For Ukraine, on the other hand, they will soon run out of ammunition and heavy artillery.

"Russia has piles and piles of artillery. Even though they have lost a lot of armed vehicles, tanks, and airplanes, this has now become an artillery war."

Aslund, who published his latest book Russia's Crony Capitalism in 2019, added that Ukrainian forces were now "taking a heavy beating in Donbas," while Russian troop losses were down from almost 1,000 a day in the early weeks of the war to around 150 a day.

For that reason, he explained, the arrival of US artillery in Ukraine would be a vital turning point in the war.

"In terms of military equipment, Russia is using T62 tanks that are more than 50 years old, they don't have any better equipment left.

"The Russians have lots of old Soviet artillery that they can use which is imprecise but still very frightening."

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Polish military intelligence specialist Konrad Muzyka told The Sun Online: "It is more than likely that Russia has also been suffering from significant morale problems and that its commandeering structures have been degraded, but that is not recent."

He added: "This is something that has been happening since day three of the war when Russian attacks started stalling."

Russia has reportedly been struggling to recruit more soldiers, even after scrapping age limits for new troops.

Muzyka said: "That is a big paradox – on the one hand, many Russians support Russia's operations in Ukraine but at the same time they don't want to die there."

PUTIN WEAKENED

Ukraine's military has claimed that more than 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war so far, more than double the casualties in the nine-year Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s.

Although news of the true scale of the losses is heavily censored in Russia, Aslund said that he believes news is slowly trickling out.

"Putin's position is very weak now as people didn't know how disastrously the war was going at the time," he went on. "Now they know."

The corpses of at least 6,000 Russian soldiers abandoned by their comrades are said to currently be in storage in Ukrainian morgues.

Aslund branded Russia's military strategy as one of the biggest military blunders in modern history.

"This conflict is likely to be as bad as the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-05," he said.

"That war was so destabilising in Russia that it resulted in a revolution in 1905."

Citing the main issues facing Russia, he pointed to "big tensions" between Russia's main security service the FSB, and its military.

Any such conflict between the arms of the security services raises the possibility of a coup, he warned.

This conflict is likely to be as bad as the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-05

He also predicted that Russian GDP would fall by some 15 to 20 percent this year, as sanctions and the cost of war begin to bite.

Finally, he said that Putin's health is a major threat to the status quo.

He said that there are "far too many signs that something is seriously wrong with his health.

"We don't know if he is dying, but we know that he is not good. We can see the pictures, which are clearly being edited.

"He no longer appears in public. There are even rumours that he has two body doubles like Saddam Hussein did."

VLAD'S REPLACEMENT

If Putin is pushed out in a coup in response to the disastrous war in Ukraine, the question turns to who might replace him.

One name touted is that of Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council and an old ally of Putin.

Aslund warned that the 70-year-old is "even madder than Putin," giving the example of a recent interview where he claimed that Poland had started seizing territory in western Ukraine.

"Patrushev has even less understanding of reality than Putin," he said. "He is consumed by anti-Western conspiracy theories."



Another potential replacement is Alexander Bortnikov, head of the FSB.

He is a shadowy figure who has made few public statements, and not much is known about his views.

A third is Sergey Naryshkin, head of foreign intelligence, whom Aslund describes as "not as mad as Putin or Patrushev".

He believes that the most likely outcome if Putin either dies in office or is overthrown in a coup would be that the security council would take over, four of whom are former KGB generals.

"They have no authority," Aslund said. "It would be like the Russian coup of August 1991, they would think they have power, but no one else will.

"Their power will just collapse, and then it will be a case of who picks it up.

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"In 1991, that was Boris Yeltsin. It needs to be a figure with popular authority and organisation.

"Only one person has that in modern Russia," he added. "Alexei Navalny."

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