ladimir Putin’s forces are failing to hit targets in Ukraine because they are using some “antiquated” maps dating back to the 1970s, western officials said on Friday.
His military chiefs are thought to be seeking to destroy Ukrainian military supply lines, including with missile strikes on Kyiv, further back from the frontline.
However, some targets are being misidentified, increasing the risk of civilian casualties, said one western official.
Russian units are also said to be attacking fixed rather than moving targets, such as convoys, partly due to a lack of intelligence.
This is being blamed to some extent on the failure to destroy Ukrainian air defences, meaning Russian intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions are being limited.
“We are also seeing an awful lot of the Russian forces using quite antiquated mapping, in some cases using mapping from the 1970s, which of course does not in any way represent the sort of target set that they are attempting to prosecute in Ukraine,” said the official.
“So, some real challenges, and some reasons perhaps why they are not being as effective but they are also creating more risk with these attacks.”
After recent speeches by Mr Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the western official highlighted a “disparity” between the will of what they want to achieve and ability of their armed forces to do so.
“Those political objectives and the range of military capabilities to deliver on them are becoming increasingly separated and the reality on the ground is not living up to the political rhetoric coming from the Kremlin,” he said.
Mr Putin is also believed to be scrambling to achieve some form of victory in the Donbas by May 9.
The day is a key date in the Russian military calendar as it marks the Nazis’ surrender in the Second World War and an annual parade is held through Moscow’s Red Square.
The western official said: “I’m sure there will be a desire to have some form of success narrative to be able to give to the population, even if that is limited success by that particular moment in time.
“They certainly won’t have achieved even their limited objectives, let alone their full objective set by the time that they get to May 9.”
Amid speculation that Mr Putin could announce a mass mobilisation to boost his war effort, he added: “There is a possibility that we see a greater call to arms.”
But that would probably mean a change in narrative, he explained from the Kremlin from a “special operation” in Ukraine to a war.