The Pentagon was providing daily updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Ukraine’s efforts to resist.
Here are the highlights of what a senior US defense official told reporters on Tuesday on Day 27:
Russian forces estimated less than 90% combat ability for the first time
“Let me mention that this is the combat power that they gathered in Belarus, and in the western part of their country before the invasion, this is not an assessment of all the Russian military power,” the official said. “But we assessed it for the first time that it could be just under 90% of that. There are no indications, no concrete indications of reinforcements being brought in from elsewhere in the country, no concrete indications of foreign fighters migrating into the country…There are no indications on the movement of foreign fighters from Syria or elsewhere.
“And in terms of resupply, again, there are no concrete indications that they are making an effort to resupply from outside the theater there until they are withdrawing from other places across Russia. But we still see indications that they are having these discussions and that they are planning those kinds of plans.”
“Our assessment is that when they look at reinforcements, this is probably the most likely scenario that they will want to withdraw from places that are not within Russia. I would remind you that the battalion tactical groups that Mr. Putin made available to him via Russia, he used about 75% in the This particular process. So, I think our assumption is that he will pull out of the country first, but that’s an assumption and I don’t really want to get any more details than that,” the official said.
On whether troops in Belarus are massing on the border with Ukraine, this official said, “I have nothing specifically regarding Belarusian intentions, we are monitoring this as closely as possible. But there is nothing specific to report to us regarding Belarusian activity towards move.”
Troops still parked outside Kyiv, frostbite now a problem, missiles fired above 1100
Most of the Russian forces are still parked around Kyiv at the same distances we’ve been hearing for over a week, the official said. “We didn’t see any major repositioning by them around Kyiv. Again, it was pretty consistent 15 kilometers or so in the north and west and 30 kilometers to the east. We didn’t see that. We didn’t see much movement from them.”
Logistics and resupply issues continue to haunt the Russian forces, with the official noting that Russia now has concerns about refueling ships in the Black Sea.
In addition to the lack of food and equipment, the Russian troops are now suffering from frostbite. “We picked up some indications that some of their soldiers are suffering from frostbite because they lack environmentally friendly cold weather equipment,” said the official, who added that some of these soldiers were taken out of combat as a result.
The official said the number of Russian missiles launched in Ukraine remains above 1,100.
Ukrainian forces on the offensive
“We’ve seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a little bit more on the offensive now,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a news briefing later Thursday. “They were defending very cleverly, agile and very creative in places that they think are the right places to defend and we have now seen them in special places in the south, near Khorasan, they have tried to reclaim territory. Again we do not do that. They do not have much sincerity in tactical movements, but we We saw them, they make these efforts.”
He recalled how the Ukrainians said a few days ago that they were planning counterattacks and “I think we’ve seen indications that they are moving in that direction.”
He later said, “We are setting this up in some places as they are trying to take back the lands that were occupied or occupied by the Russians.”
Siege of Mariupol, Russia
“The Ukrainians are fighting very hard to prevent Mariupol from falling,” the official said. The official said Ukrainian forces had launched strong resistance inside Mariupol against a “large number” of Russian forces that had made their way into the city, including separatist Russian forces from Donbass. For the most part, the Russian forces now pressing on Mariupol are the forces that came south from Donetsk.
The massive artillery bombardment and long-range bombardment of Mariupol continues, but the news is that over the past 24 hours the United States has noticed “that the Russians were probably shooting at the city from the sea from the Sea of Azov” as the Russians had done so by seven ships.
The official said the US assessment is that the Russian push toward Mariupol is intended to be the “Antarctic” of the Russians’ efforts to isolate Ukrainian forces in Donbas. “So that the Ukrainian forces could not … be confined there and not be able to defend the cities in the far west, including Kyiv, so Mariupol acts as an anchor for this effort, if you will, in the southern part of Ukraine.”
“There are a lot of important battles going on. The Ukrainians are not giving up on Mariupol. They are fighting hard to prevent it. I am sure they do not need to be reminded of the importance of that city in this whole effort,” the official said.
In the Black Sea, the official said, “there is no indication of imminent amphibious attacks on or near Odessa, and again we have not noticed, at least on the part of the Navy, that we have not noticed the parade in the past 24 hours.”
The Russians have 21 ships in the Black Sea, 12 of which are surface combatants and nine of them are amphibious ships.
Invasion of Ukraine raises questions about US forces in Eastern Europe
Kirby acknowledged that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed the security situation in Europe and that this week’s NATO meeting may need to address new questions such as whether troops should be kept in Eastern Europe in the long term. “We have to think about it completely differently, no matter how it all ended,” Kirby said.
Kirby said he could not move forward with the NATO meeting and President Joe Biden’s participation, but noted that during Defense Secretary Austin’s trip to NATO last week, the alliance was “taking steps to enhance deterrence and preparedness” in the wake of the Russian invasion, including creating new battle groups. . “How long they have a presence will really be a decision for the coalition, not something the United States can decide unilaterally,” Kirby said.
Noting that the United States has boosted its troop levels in Europe from 80,000 to 100,000, Kirby said he couldn’t predict the future but “I can tell you the Secretary wants to preserve his options to be able unilaterally to continue to support the East Loin.” He added: “We are not sure where this will go but the minister is convinced that wherever he goes, the security environment on the European continent is changing now. And we have to think about it in a completely different way, no matter how it all ends.”
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