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

LONDON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - 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.

"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."

Reporting by Alistair Smout, Editing by Kylie MacLellan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.