US warns ‘knockout blow’ coming for Putin as Ukraine war descends into ‘slugfest’

Ukraine: Donbas region on the brink of collapse

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With the war now rapidly approaching four months since its debut, Russia has seen mixed results from a so-called “Special Operation” that was supposed to last days and not months. Yet with movement appearing to stall in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces struggle to gain full control of the Donbas region, huge losses suffered during the war appear to have Putin on the ropes as the conflict rolls on.

Now, a former US General has suggested the fluctuating nature of the war is comparable to a boxing match.

Mark Hertling said: “It’s a heavyweight boxing match.

“In two months of fighting, there has not yet been a knockout blow. It will come, as Russian forces become more depleted.”

The former military man said fighting in the Donbas region is like a “punch-counterpunch” as heavy artillery is traded blow by blow between the two sides.

Continuing his evaluation, Mr Hertling added: “The Donbas fight has been a slugfest for over 2 months, so an expectation would be an advancement on one side or the other.

“That’s not happened.”

With hundreds of soldiers and civilians dying each day, Mr Hertling argued that Ukrainian forces have the greater “will and morale” in defending their nation against a demoralised Russian military struggling to recover from the heavy losses witnessed since the start of the conflict.

Part of the success has come from the steady supply of arms to Ukraine from western sources, with British anti-tank N-LAW missiles being a prime example in explaining why Russia has lost nearly 1,500 tanks.

Furthermore, Ukraine has enjoyed the recent supply of heavy artillery supplied by the US, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

Added to this is the recent acquisition of twelve MiG-29 fighter jets from Slovakia.

However, in spite of the continual supply of weapons, and the notion that Putin is due to be delivered a knock-out blow according to Mr Hertling’s boxing analogy, some believe the fight is likely to last a lot longer than 12 rounds.

Speaking of his concerns, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg believes the war could continue for years to come.

In an interview with German media outlet Bild, Mr Stoltenberg said: “We must prepare for the fact that it could take years.

“We must not let up in supporting Ukraine.

“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support but also because of rising energy and food prices.

“But: That is no comparison to the price that the Ukrainians have to pay every day with many lives.”

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Mr Stoltenberg also mentioned whilst the cost of the war was financially demanding, allowing Putin to win would have a far graver impact.

The NATO chief suggested the only way to see Ukraine win the war was to continue to support Kyiv in terms of military equipment and financial aid.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested Ukraine winning against Russia would be the greatest victory since World War Two.

Mr Johnson said: “We know Putin would not stop at dismembering Ukraine.

“Only last week, he compared himself to Peter the Great and arrogated to Russia an eternal right to ‘take back’ any territory ever inhabited by ‘Slavs’, a doctrine that would permit the conquest of vast expanses of Europe, including NATO allies.”

The latest report emerging from the Donbas region shows Russia is making “marginal gains” around the city of Severodonetsk as heavy shelling continues in the city, focusing on the Azov chemical plant in particular.

For more stories like this, follow Defence and Security Correspondent James Lee on Twitter: @JamesLee_DE

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