EDF colonel: Russia cannot break through Ukraine's positions in near future

Mart Vendla.
Mart Vendla. Source: ERR

As Russia's armed forces cannot break through the Ukrainian positions in the near future, it will target Ukraine's economy and civilian environment instead, said Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Col. Mart Vendla on Friday.

"The Russian Federation's (RF) armed forces carried out attacks mainly on the Kupyansk-Svatovo-Kremennaya line, in the Bakhmut area and on the Donetsk-Avdiivka line, and have achieved minimal success. It is unlikely that Russian forces will be able to make a decisive breakthrough in Ukrainian positions in the near future. Therefore, they are trying to exhaust the Ukrainian economy and civilian environment with missile and drone attacks," Vendla said, outlining the week's events in Ukraine, at the Ministry of Defense's weekly press conference.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have had limited success in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmut and in the south around Orekhov and Velyka Novoselivka. 

"At the same time, there is no reliable evidence that they have broken through the first line of defense. Ukraine continues to strike at RF's key logistical hubs in order to limit the supply of RF forces on the front. For example, on July 29, an attack was carried out on the Chongar railway bridge, which is important because it is the route that supplies Crimea. The Kerch Bridge also remains under repair," he said.

Mercenaries from Wagner's private army have moved to a camp in Tsel, Belarus.

"The number of soldiers there is increasing, with an estimated 5,000 soldiers having moved there. Wagner has no heavy equipment or weapons in Belarus, so a conventional attack on Belarus' near neighbors is highly unlikely," Vendla said.

The colonel added that it is likely the Wagner units have started to construct better training facilities at the Asipovichski training ground near the camp at Tsel.

"This shows Wagner's plans to stay longer in Belarus. At the same time, the number of Wagner instructors in the units of the Belarusian troops is minimal," said Vendla.

"Wagner's personnel numbers and salaries exceed those of senior Belarusian officers many times over, and it is likely that Belarus will not be able to maintain and service a special army on its own. Wagner is dependent on the Kremlin, and it remains unknown what will become of Wagner in the near future," he said.

Wagner is not Lukashenka's personal tool either, Vendla added. 

"Russia continues to have important business and services in Africa through Wagner's private war company. In addition, Lukashenko may see Wagner's presence in Belarus as an additional business opportunity," he explained.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright

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