Russia maintains the initiative with its ground forces but is a long way from making significant progress or achieving its military goals, said General Staff of the volunteer Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), Col. Eero Rebo said on Friday.
In a weekly overview given at the Ministry of Defense, Rebo said Ukraine has carried out several deep operations that have been felt in Russia.
"Russia's energy infrastructure has been attacked for weeks in successive waves, but also very clearly that these are military targets. This is the case in Crimea, Oryol, Krasnodar Krai, Bryansk, Ryazan, Leningrad, and Nizhny Novgorod oblasts," the colonel said.
He said it cannot be ruled out that similar asymmetric attacks are linked to the upcoming so-called Russian presidential elections.
"The reaction of Putin's authorities in these regions has led to significant disruptions in the functioning of the internet and civil society," said Rebo, adding: "For example, residents of the Leningrad region were deprived of 4G mobile internet. Initially, this took place between January 26-30. Earlier, similar measures were taken in Novgorod oblast, where a Tu-22M bomber was destroyed, and in Pskov, where an Il-76 transport plane was hit."
Rebo said the decisions to cut off such services are likely to be made at the level of the central government in Russia. "This is to demonstrate that the authorities are taking action to deal with crises," he said.
The colonel said the situation in the northern direction has not changed significantly.
The Russian Armed Forces continue to have a large presence in the Kursk and Bryansk regions and will probably, sooner or later, try to attack from there.
Russia is continuing various attacks with armored vehicles in the direction of Luhansk, or the northeast offensive. In the directions of Kupyansk and Lyman, Russia is also actively using air and artillery support. The colonel said, that despite the Russians holding the initiative, their progress has been very marginal.
Rebo said Russia's main goal in the Donetsk direction is to capture the town of Avdiivka. More active combat operations are also taking place in the direction of Bakhmut and Donetsk.
"For some time in Avdiivka, there were signals that maneuver or reconnaissance units were seen inside the settlement. But they were unable to organize a siege of the Ukrainians. In essence, fierce battles are going on there, but the tactical situation is unchanged," the colonel said.
In the directions of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson, Russia's armed forces continue their attacks on the territories liberated by Ukraine.
The Ukrainians continue to hold the bridgehead created over the Dnieper which battles are fought around.
Russia says new units being formed on western border
Russia is spreading information that new units are being formed in the Leningrad Military District on its western border with Europe, Rebo said. The Western Military District will be divided into the Leningrad and Moscow Military Districts.
Russia wants to strengthen St. Petersburg and the entire northwestern part of Russia with the new teams, he said.
"This would seem to be a backlash against Finland's, and possibly Sweden's, imminent entry into NATO," Rebo said.
"However, according to the Russian Federation's own military experts, the first phase of the strengthening of the Leningrad military district still leaves something to be desired. Certainly, if some stabilization is achieved in Ukraine, we will see an increase in efforts behind our borders, but new units will largely be created in the Karelian direction. This would significantly increase the Russian military presence in the region," the colonel said.
Russia has previously said it would put more units on the border after Finland moved to join NATO. The majority of the units usually situated on its western border have been sent to Ukraine.
Two weeks ago Russia's Ust-Luga port, close to the Estonian border, was attacked.
Editor: Valner Väino, Helen Wright