More than half of the warplanes of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet were knocked out of action last week by explosions at the Russian-controlled Saki airfield in western Crimea, an area previously considered safe by Moscow, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.
The Kremlin is now busy looking for someone to blame for the failure, but the president Vladimir Putin trying to hide of Ukraine success from the Russian population as thousands of Russians fleeing Crimea poured into the country, officials said Friday.
They added that the attacks forced the Black Sea Fleet into a defensive position and prevented Russia from launching a successful amphibious assault on Odessa.
This happened at a time when the war has moved into a phase of near-operational stagnation, where neither side’s ground forces have enough concentrated combat power to launch successful offensive operations.
As Russia struggles to rebuild its forces, officials say, it is facing increasing shortages of supplies, even basic ammunition, as well as personnel problems.
Meanwhile, the head of the GCHQ intelligence service said that Moscow had failed to gain a foothold in cyberspace against Ukraine. “So far, President Putin has comprehensively lost the information war in Ukraine and the West,” wrote Sir Jeremy Fleming in an op-ed in The Economist magazine. “As with the land invasion, Russia’s original online plans appear to have failed.”
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