Russia's operation in Ukraine is now a defensive one - Western official

As Russia is losing ground in Ukraine, a Western official claims that Russia is now in a defensive position in its war against Ukraine.

 A Ukrainian serviceman walks near captured Russian tanks with installed Ukrainian flags, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 19, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)
A Ukrainian serviceman walks near captured Russian tanks with installed Ukrainian flags, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, near the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 19, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

Russia is now engaged in a defensive operation in Ukraine following its withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson, a Western official said on Tuesday, after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to reclaim all its occupied territory.

Zelenskiy visited Kherson on Monday, and has said any peace deal must involve the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

"It's clear that for now, the Russia occupation of Ukraine is a defensive operation," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said that Russia's withdrawal from Kherson had been relatively orderly, and said Russian claims it had evacuated 30,000 troops was likely an exaggeration, estimating that the number was closer to 20,000 personnel.

He said he expected the situation on the battlefield would be broadly static into next year.

 A Ukrainian serviceman carries captured anti-tank grenade launchers at a former position of Russian soldiers in the village of Blahodatne, retaken by the Ukrainian Armed Forces a day ago, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kherson region, Ukraine November 11, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) A Ukrainian serviceman carries captured anti-tank grenade launchers at a former position of Russian soldiers in the village of Blahodatne, retaken by the Ukrainian Armed Forces a day ago, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kherson region, Ukraine November 11, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

"If people are expecting the collapse of forces on either side, we can't see anything which would indicate that from now through until the end of the year," the official said.

"Neither side is in such a condition that its forces will collapse."