A fear of potential counterattack by Ukrainian forces has led to the redeployment of Russian troops, in turn giving the Ukrainians a chance for success in conflict zones in eastern Ukraine, Marti Magnus, a department head at the Ministry of Defense, said Friday.
Speaking at a ministry press conference, Magnus noted that the advance of Russian forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has run out of steam, while in many ways this can be explained by countermeasures against a possible counter-attack by Ukrainian forces, Magnus said.
He said: "It can be seen that in some areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the Ukrainians have gained the initiative."
The Russian forces are redeploying troops to protect the captured areas in the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, while this momentum will continue, Magnus said. Consequently, the Russians are not expected to make any great headway in the region in the coming weeks.
"It can be observed that they are located in the same positions, and dug in, while indirect fire strikes by the Russian troops goes on," Magnus said.
"Events during the month of July demonstrated that the invading forces are also making use of [Kremlin ally] Belarus, and dliveritng both indirect and precision strikes on Ukraine, from that country."
"This shows us that [Belarusian leader Alexander] Lukashenko does not have final say, and that Russia's armed forces can pass through Belarus quite freely," he went on.
Indirect fire strikes by Russian forces are still intense, but have fallen in recent weeks. According to Magnus, this can be explained by the fact that Ukrainian forces have been able to prevent indirect fire strikes thanks to the use of western weaponry.
Magnus also highlighted that, taking statistics of Russian forces' casualties into account, it appears that aa large proportion of ethnic minorities from inside the Russian Federation, for instance Dagestanis, Buryats, are to be found in the figures.
This was the result of being attracted to the armed forces in preference to low living standards, Magnus said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte