Kiev is suffering heavy losses, with its prospects looking bleak, a senior Russian diplomat has claimed
Ukraine is plagued by mounting military problems which do not bode well for its fortunes on the battlefield, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the UN said on Wednesday.
Speaking to American journalist Kim Iversen, Dmitry Polyanskiy was asked where he thought the Ukraine conflict was heading, with one possible scenario being NATO's direct involvement.
The diplomat said Moscow would prefer to avoid such an outcome, as a stand-off between the US-led military bloc and Russia "would be dangerous for the whole world."
However, he claimed that "Ukrainian troops are now in a very poor situation," pointing to evidence they "are really suffering heavy losses".
"The new conscripts are being used as cannon fodder after two-three days of training," the senior diplomat claimed. In his view, the "regime" of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky "has become hostage of its own policy and of its promises to Western countries that it is capable of winning militarily over Russia" if it is being supplied with weapons.
The Ukrainians are willing to show they are capable of a counter-offensive and do not want "any damage to their image," which is why the situation around the key Donbass city of Artyomovsk, known as Bakhmut in Ukraine, "is really very bad" for the country, Polyanskiy said.
"There are a lot of [Ukrainian] troops that are on the brink of being encircled. Casualties are immense," the diplomat continued, suggesting that Kiev is throwing in troops "just to support the prestige" of Zelensky and his promises to the West.
"The weather conditions are also not in favor of the Ukrainian army, because they can't use heavy machines for their tasks. So I think we are on the eve of quite serious military developments there, not in favor of Ukraine," Polyanskiy concluded.
The fight for Artyomovsk, a major foothold and logistics hub for Kiev's forces, has been raging for months now, with Moscow's troops recently capturing several villages around the strategic city. Earlier this month, Wagner Private Military Company chief Evgeny Prigozhin claimed that Russian forces were in full control of the eastern part of Artyomovsk.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has described this battle as "one of the hardest." On Wednesday, he promised to reinforce the city.
Both sides recognize the strategic importance of the city in the Donetsk People's Republic. Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergy Shoigu said control over Artyomovsk would allow Moscow's forces "further offensive actions deep" into Ukrainian defenses, a statement which was largely echoed by Zelensky himself.