Ukraine faces ‘bloody & unpredictable’ year ahead unless West breaks WW1-style deadlock, warns Brit brigadier | The Sun

UKRAINE faces a "bloody and unpredictable" year ahead unless the West steps up its support, a former brigadier has warned.

Ben Barry, who served in the British Army, said it's not clear if Kyiv has enough combat power to fend off Russian forces as Putin prepares a new offensive.

The Russian leader is feared to be softening up Ukraine's defences ahead of a massive ground attack to coincide with the first anniversary of the war on February 24.

Ukraine has been monitoring the Russian military build up as they continue to plea for Western support.

The new assault is feared to be "much bigger" than the first wave which stormed across the country towards Kyiv almost exactly one year ago.

As the conflict rumbles on, Barry told The Sun Online that the "stalemated" war could last three years.

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And the Senior Fellow for Land Warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) warned Putin's troops will continue with its brutal First World War-style attacks.

Speaking at the launch of The Military Balance 2023, Barry said: "We can expect another bloody year with unpredictable action and reaction dynamics as both sides struggle for the initiative."

The annual assessment of global military capabilities from the IISS found Russia has faced heavy losses on the battlefield and failed to gain air superiority.

It said the performance of some Russian weapons has been "underwhelming" – with Putin's tanks and infantry vehicles proving "vulnerable".

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But Barry warned the coming warmer spring months "will make large scale offensives easier" after a relatively quiet winter.

And without Western weapons, Ukraine could struggle to fight back Russian forces, he said.

"Provided that sufficient ammunition and equipment is supplied, political and battlefield leadership as well as Western weapons may well give Ukraine a tactical advantage," he said.

"But it is not clear that Kyiv has enough combat power to rapidly eject Russian forces."

Barry added that Moscow is willing to accept heavy losses as it aims to outlast Ukraine and its allies.

"At the strategic level, the war is currently stalemated with little movement of the frontlines," he said.

"Ukraine plans counter-offensives to eject Russian forces.

"For these they want to have at least 10 armoured brigades with modern western armour, hence their request for a thousand modern armoured fighting vehicles.

"Current declarations by Ukraine's allies would supply about 25 per cent of this by the summer, limiting Ukrainian combat power."

He added: "Its objectives are full control of the Donbas, Zaporozhe and Kherson Oblasts.

"It is not clear if it can yet concentrate enough capable and competent formations to achieve this.

"Meanwhile it will continue to both fortify its defences and its First World War style attacks in the Donbas."

It is not clear that Kyiv has enough combat power to rapidly eject Russian forces

Barry admitted the trajectory of the war is "quite difficult to predict".

"Both sides get a vote and would fight to the death to cast it," he said.

Henry Boyd, Research Fellow for Defence and Military Analysis at the IISS, added casualties on both sides of the war have been high.

"It's not quite the same level the Russians have suffered, but it is going to play out as a potential problem for them over the long term," he said.

"I think that the next certainly the next year, this is going to be a huge limiting factor in the Ukrainian war capability. But it was always one they will have to bear in mind."

Dr John Chipman, the director-general of the IISS, also warned Kyiv's ability to stall advances from Moscow will depend on continued Western support.

He said Russia remains "intent on building up personnel strength of new offensives" and has been forced to turn to the brutal Wagner Group to supplement his weakened ground forces.

"Moscow's armed forces have so far come up short," Chipman said.

He added "important" questions should also be raised about Russia's naval and air power – particularly the "extraordinary" loss of the Moskva warship in the early days of the war.

"Russia's actions over the past year have raised questions not only over the competence of its political and senior military leadership, but also over command cohesion," he said.

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"There are reports of internal conflicts and the regular sacking of military leaders, while Russia's leadership also turned to the Wagner Group to supplement Russia's weakened ground forces.

"The quality of Russia's lower-level military leadership is low, highlighting the lack of effective cadre of non-commissioned officers."

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