Russia To Rely More on Reserve Forces as War Continues—U.K. Intelligence

Russia's military will be relying more on its reserve forces as the war in Ukraine amid slow military progress in the east and the war drags on into its fifth month, according to U.K. intelligence.

The fighting is focused in the eastern Donbas region, after a failed attempt to capture Kyiv earlier on in the war. However, several Russian missiles struck the capital on Sunday, for the first time in three weeks. One man was killed and residential buildings and a kindergarten were damaged in the attack on central district, according to Ukrainian officials.

"While Russia's main operational focus remains the Sieverodonetsk-Lysychansk pocket, a week of consistently heavy shelling suggests Russia is now trying to regain momentum on the northern Izium axis," the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense daily intelligence update said on Monday.

Russian serviceman
A Russian serviceman patrols on the promenade in Berdyansk, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine, on June 14, 2022. Russia’s military will be relying more on its reserve forces as the war in Ukraine drags on into its fifth month, according to British intelligence. Yuri Kadobnov/AFP

Sieverodonetsk has experienced heavy shelling for weeks and the city of once more than 100,000 people came under Russian control over the weekend.

The British defense update said that Ukrainian forces continued to hold the line in that sector, because they are making "good use" of forested terrain to help their defense.

"Over the coming weeks, Russia's campaign will highly likely increasingly rely on echelons of reserve forces. These consist of several distinct components which Russia has almost certainly already started to field," the update said.

Russia's Combat Army Reserve is composed of part-time but volunteer reservists, which deploy as whole units typically earmarked for rear-area security tasks, the ministry said.

The ministry said that Russian authorities are likely to use volunteers from the Human Mobilisation Resource, a large pool of veterans that have served in the Russian military over the last five years. These volunteers will likely fill out the third battalions within regular brigades, the ministry said.

"Despite a continued shortfall in the number of deployable reservists for Ukraine, the Russian leadership likely remains reluctant to order a general mobilisation," it added.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry as well as Ukrainian authorities for comment.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to urge the Group of 7 (G7) economies to step up their financial and military support for the eastern European country. Zelensky is to address the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States via videocall at 10 a.m. local time during the G7 summit, which is taking place in the Bavarian Alps.

NATO leaders are to meet on Tuesday at a summit in Spain where they are expected to discuss steps to take to continue to support Ukraine in the war, as well as Sweden's and Finland's bid for membership of the North Atlantic Alliance.