Earlier this month, Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian forces had taken control of the eastern city of Lysychansk in the Donbas. The city in the Luhansk region had seen heavy shelling and fighting in the lead-up to its fall to Russia.
The army general staff said that “in order to preserve the lives of Ukrainian defenders, a decision was made to withdraw”.
Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, vowed that Ukraine would retake the city “thanks to the increase in the supply of modern weapons”.
But the Russian forces in control of the area do not have the benefit of the latest weaponry, the MoD argued in its daily briefing.
It described the Russian forces as teetering on the edge of losing the momentum they gained from taking the key eastern city by failing to make significant gains in the past three days.
It posted on Twitter: “In the Donbas, Russian forces continue to conduct artillery strikes across a broad front followed by, in some areas, probing assaults by small company and platoon-sized units.
“However, they have achieved no significant territorial advances over the last 72 hours and are in danger of losing any momentum built up following the capture of Lysychansk.
“The ageing vehicles, weapons, and Soviet-era tactics used by Russian forces do not lend themselves to quickly regaining or building momentum unless used in overwhelming mass – which Russia is currently unable to bring to bear.”
The MoD then referenced recent talks on Turkey aiming to restart Black Sea exports of grain from Ukraine, which have been blocked by Russia.
The MoD added in its intelligence update: “Despite 13 July 2022 talks between delegations from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the UN on grain exports and recent successfully negotiated prisoner exchanges, the prospects for wider talks to end the conflict remain low.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the agreement a “critical step forward” in a message of controlled enthusiasm, going on to warn that “we still need a lot of goodwill and commitments by all parties.”
Mr Zelensky added: “The Ukrainian delegation has reported to me that there is progress.
“In the coming days we will agree on the details with the U.N. Secretary-General.”
Mr Guterres had previously issued a dire warning over the grain blockade, saying it had the potential to “tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine”.
He added in May: “There is enough food in our world now if we act together.
“But unless we solve this problem today, we face the spectre of global food shortage in the coming months.”
Ukraine and Russia account for just under a third of the world’s wheat supply, with Ukraine labelled the “bread basket of Europe”.