Cheap Chinese tyres are hampering Russia’s war in Ukraine – because trucks keep getting bogged down in mud.
Corrupt Russian generals ordered the dodgy tyres to be fitted to their armoured vehicles, defence chiefs believe.
But the scam has led to lorries and other heavy vehicles becoming stuck in churned-up ground.
The tyres are made from poor quality rubber and have a tread which is not able to gain enough grip on mud.
One intelligence source said: “Russian generals are notoriously corrupt. Russia has a defence budget of around £60billion a year but so much of that gets siphoned off at various levels.
“The impact of that is that the Russians are being forced to buy cheap tyres to fit on to expensive armoured vehicles, and they just don’t work.”
Western officials said Vladimir Putin’s troops had also been hampered by stiff resistance and poor tactical awareness of the environment.
The Kremlin’s armed forces have struggled to make significant gains in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine because “they don’t like to fight in the rain”, the military experts claim.
Our source added: “They are making minor gains, but when they come up against genuine military objectives, they find it difficult to overcome the staunch Ukrainian resistance and are suffering losses.
“It’s not helped by the weather conditions at the moment in the Donbas – there’s heavy rain.
“The Russians don’t like to fight in the rain and that is slowing progress.”
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6, has said that peace talks will be “very difficult” to achieve in Ukraine if Mad Vlad succeeds in his military aims in the Donbas.
Sir Alex added: “Putin does not have a reverse gear… and he is not going to give up.”