Troop morale a concern as NATO chief warns war in Ukraine could last ‘years’

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KYIV, Ukraine (UKTN) — Four months of brutal fighting in Ukraine appears to be straining troop morale on both sides, sparking desertions and rebellion against officers’ orders, British defense officials said Sunday. The NATO chief warned that the war could last “for years”.

“Combat units on both sides are engaged in intense fighting in the Donbass and are likely to be experiencing variable morale,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its Daily War Assessment.

“Ukrainian forces have likely suffered desertions in recent weeks,” the assessment said, but added that “Russian morale most likely remains particularly troubled.”

He said “cases of entire Russian units refusing orders and armed clashes between officers and their troops continue to occur.”

A Ukrainian special operations unit carries anti-tank mines to be buried on a forest track to prevent Russian troops from advancing towards their trenches in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on June 14.

Separately, Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate released what it said were intercepted phone calls in which Russian soldiers complained about front-line conditions, poor equipment and general understaffing, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War.

He also urged allies “not to weaken support for Ukraine, even if the costs are high, not only in terms of military aid, but also due to rising energy prices and foodstuffs”.

In recent days, Gazprom, the Russian gas company, has reduced deliveries to two major European customers, Germany and Italy. In the case of Italy, energy officials are expected to meet this week to discuss the situation. The head of Italian energy giant ENI said on Saturday that with additional gas bought from other sources, Italy should get through next winter, but he warned Italians that “restrictions” affecting the use of gas might be necessary.

Coffins in Lviv, Ukraine, are draped in Ukrainian flags as the Ukrainian army buries with military honors three of its soldiers, each of whom died fighting invading Russian forces on front lines across the country , June 18.
Coffins in Lviv, Ukraine, are draped in Ukrainian flags as the Ukrainian army buries with military honors three of its soldiers, each of whom died fighting invading Russian forces on front lines across the country , June 18.

Scott Peterson via Getty Images

Germany will limit the use of gas for power generation amid concerns over possible shortages caused by reduced supplies from Russia, the country’s economy minister said on Sunday. Germany tried to fill its gas storage facilities to capacity before the cold winter months.

Stoltenberg, however, pointed out that “the costs of food and fuel are nothing compared to those paid daily by Ukrainians on the front lines”.

Stoltenberg added: Moreover, if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to achieve his goals in Ukraine, such as when he annexed Crimea in 2014, “we would have to pay an even higher price.”

The British Ministry of Defense said Russia and Ukraine continued to carry out heavy artillery bombardments on axes north, east and south of the Sieverodonetsk pocket, but with little change on the front line.

A soldier kneels before the coffin of activist and soldier Roman Ratushnyi during the memorial service in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 18.  Ratushnyi died in a battle near Izyum, where Russian and Ukrainian troops are fighting for control of the region.
A soldier kneels before the coffin of activist and soldier Roman Ratushnyi during the memorial service in Kyiv, Ukraine, June 18. Ratushnyi died in a battle near Izyum, where Russian and Ukrainian troops are fighting for control of the region.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said via Telegram on Sunday: “It’s a very difficult situation in Sievierodonetsk, where the enemy in the middle of the city is carrying out round-the-clock aerial reconnaissance with drones, adjusting fire, quickly adapting to our changes.”

The Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Sunday that Russian and separatist forces had taken control of Metolkin, a settlement just east of Sievierodonetsk.

Some time after Zelenskyy left Mykolaiv, “the enemy caused fire damage against units of the Defense Forces with cannons and rockets in the areas of the settlements of Pravdyne, Posad-Pokrovskoe and Blahodatne”, according to the briefing. of the Ukrainian army on Sunday.

Ukrainians, seen on Saturday, continue to live in bunkers in the village of Kutuzovka as Russian troops continue their brutal assault on Donbass.
Ukrainians, seen on Saturday, continue to live in bunkers in the village of Kutuzovka as Russian troops continue their brutal assault on Donbass.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In other attacks in the south, the military operational command of southern Ukraine said on Sunday that two people were killed in the shelling of the Galitsyn community in the Mykolaiv region and that the shelling of the Bashtansky district was continued.

The Russian Defense Ministry said ship-borne missiles destroyed a factory in the city of Mykolaiv where howitzers and armored vehicles supplied by the West were stored.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concern “that a bit of Ukraine fatigue is starting to set in around the world” and called for support for Ukrainian efforts to try to roll back the Russian invasion.

“It would be a disaster if Putin won. He would love nothing more than to say, “Let’s freeze this conflict, let’s have a ceasefire,” Johnson said on Saturday, a day after a surprise visit to Kyiv, where he met Zelenskyy and offered to join him. to offer continuous aid and military training.

Heavy weapons supplied by the West are reaching the front lines. But Ukraine’s leaders have insisted for weeks that they need more weapons and they need them sooner.

On Sunday, Pope Francis, though he lamented the accumulation of weapons, added his own warning to those who might lose sight of Ukraine, which he says deserves to defend itself.

“And let’s not forget the martyred Ukrainian people right now,” Francis told the audience in St. Peter’s Square. He made them ask themselves, “What did I do today for the Ukrainian people?

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