Russia will likely control all of Luhansk within two weeks, UK intelligence says

The UK Ministry of Defence expects Russia to take control of the whole of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine within the next two weeks, according to its latest intelligence assessment.

In the report, the ministry said that after failing to take Kyiv, Moscow has changed its strategy in Ukraine to focus on the Donbas, the part of eastern Ukraine that is formed of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

Two parts of the Donbas have been held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. They have become known as the Luhansk and the Donetsk People’s Republics and comprise roughly a third of the total area of the Donbas.

The Ukrainian government in Kyiv asserts the two regions are, in effect, temporarily Russian-occupied. The self-declared republics have not recognized by any governments, other than Russia and its close ally Syria, and the Ukrainian government has steadfastly refused to talk directly with the leaders of either.

The British assessment said: “Russia is now achieving tactical success in the Donbas. Russian forces have generated and maintained momentum and currently appear to hold the initiative over Ukrainian opposition.”

It added:

“Russia controls over 90% of Luhansk Oblast and is likely to complete control in the next two weeks. Russia has achieved these recent tactical successes at significant resource cost, and by concentrating force and fires on a single part of the overall campaign.”

But the report said that Russia is failing to gain momentum in other areas, where it has been forced into defensive mode.

“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,” it added.

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