Disaster for Putin: Russian troops 'suffer frostbite and lose 10% of their invasion force'

23 March 2022, 06:26 | Updated: 23 March 2022, 06:33

Russia is said to have lost 10% of its invasion force and its troops are suffering from frostbite
Russia is said to have lost 10% of its invasion force and its troops are suffering from frostbite. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Will Taylor

Russian troops in Ukraine may have lost a tenth of their invasion force and are suffering from frostbite thanks to poor equipment.

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Ukrainian defenders are now also starting to seize back territory after a month of staunch resistance holding up Vladimir Putin's soldiers.

They are also suffering from command problems and may only have enough supplies to last for a few more days.

Ukraine's successes come as fears over what the Russian leader will do next grow. The Kremlin has continued chilling warnings about nuclear weapons and Western officials claim he could be considering using chemical weapons.

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A US Department of Defense [DoD] official told the media that Ukraine have made gains in taking back places Russia had seized, including at Izyum, in the Kharkiv region, and Kherson, in the south of the country.

A senior American defence official was quoted as saying: "They are now able and willing to take back territory the Russians have taken.

"It's notable. Not only are the Ukrainians defending well, they're making efforts to take back territory the Russians have taken in recent days."

And speaking of troubles faced by Russian troops, the official went on: "Some of their soldiers are suffering from frostbite because they lack the appropriate cold weather gear. We don't think they properly planned."

Invading troops have been using Ukrainian boots because they are thought of as superior, while they have also resorted to putting carpets on top of their vehicles to try to hide them from Kyiv's drones, The Telegraph said.

Russia may also have lost as much as 10% of the forces sent in to Ukraine, a defence official added.

The DoD believes they are suffering from "command and control problems".

It was also briefed that the Pentagon has seen evidence of Russian forces intentionally aiming attacks at civilian infrastructure and there are suggestions of likely war crimes being committed.

Ukraine's army has also added that it thinks Russia only has enough food, ammunition and fuel to last for three days.

While that claim cannot be verified, thoughts among Western countries have turned to what Putin and Russian commanders may try if they get increasingly desperate at the stalled invasion.

They seem intent on taking Mariupol, a city in the south of the country that has been devastated by strikes. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said "only ruins" are left as civilians trapped in the city struggle to survive.

It is thought that seizing Mariupol would allow Russia to open a "land bridge" from Russia, through the breakaway Donbas region in the east, and down to Crimea, which it captured in 2014.

The Kremlin again spoke of the use of nuclear weapons. Asked about when Putin would use Russia's nuclear arsenal, spokesman Dimity Peskov said "if it is an existential threat for our country, then it can be".

However, he denied the invasion had stalled, insisting everything was going as planned.

The US has also raised fears that Putin could be looking into using chemical warfare against Ukraine.