WASHINGTON – For the Russian military, difficulties come quickly.
On the first day President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, his generals and troops followed the textbook of land invasion strategy. They attacked the country’s military installations and air defenses with missiles launched from the air, sea and land, seeking to take control of the skies while accelerating their forces to the capital Kyiv with aim to behead the government of a democratically elected president. , Volodymyr Zelensky.
But then, things slow down. Pentagon officials and analysts say it’s one thing to cross another country’s border with tanks and artillery, guarded by fighter jets overhead. It was quite another matter to lay siege to cities and an army of people willing to give their lives to protect what they considered their right to self-determination.
Within a day of entering Ukraine, Russian forces lost some momentum as Ukrainian warplanes launched resistance, senior US and British officials said. A senior Defense Department official told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday that no population centers have been implemented. Russia has also not been able to achieve air superiority over Ukraine, partly because Ukraine is using mobile systems and partly because Russian missiles have hit old air defense positions, which could indicate holes in Russian intelligence. He said that Ukraine’s air defense and missile defense systems have deteriorated, but the country’s air force still flies planes and refuses to get in the air with Russia.
In addition, officials said, Russia is conducting most of its initial operations during the day, suggesting that nighttime combat – a hallmark of the US military – is less effective.
Lieutenant General Jim Hockenhull, director of the UK’s Defense Intelligence Agency, said: “Ukrainian armed forces continue to resist strongly.
That said, Pentagon officials warn that Russia has only sent a third of the 150,000-190,000 troops it has massed on the Ukraine border, so Moscow could ramp up pressure at any time. Military officials say Russia is still in the early stages of an operation that could take two to three weeks to take over most of the country.
Officials say Russia has begun an amphibious assault from the Sea of Azov, near Mariupol, to the south. Thousands of Russian naval infantry are approaching the shore there, with military officials judging that the plan is to advance towards the city. The Russian army, with a decisive advantage in cyber wartanks, heavy weapons, missiles, warplanes, warships and absolute, lower numbers of Ukraine.
But war is not just on paper. While Russia has established road attack on three cities – Kyiv to the north, Kharkiv to the northeast and Kherson to the south – Ukrainian troops are fighting to hold all three. A senior US defense official said Ukraine’s command and control remained intact.
A second official said that Russia’s lines of attack were blocked as Ukrainian troops fought fiercely against the Russians. The resistance, officials say, is why the massive Russian army in the border paradise doesn’t overcome it all. However, the official warned that many more of them would quickly flock to the cities – especially Kyiv – if the front elements broke through the Ukrainian army holding them.
John F. Kirby, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said that in the past 24 hours, Russian forces in the last 24 hours were able to carry out their plans as they assumed they would. “But it’s a dynamic situation.”
As some Russian troops entered a northern district of Kyiv, rocket attacks hit the city and rockets hit residential buildings. A senior Biden administration official said that if Russian intelligence found out where Zelensky and the rest of the Ukrainian leadership were hiding, the Russian military would likely try to take them down with rockets and missiles. air raid. But if that doesn’t work, Russian forces could resort to urban warfare, a more difficult endeavor.
“The easy part is hitting missiles and hitting the airfields,” said retired Colonel David Lapan, a 30-year Marine Corps veteran. “But the story that they have overtaken Ukraine is very early. We’ve only started a few days and it could take a long time.”
Senior Pentagon officials echoed that view. The Russian military is besieging Kyiv with the aim of isolating and possibly encircling the capital, a senior Biden official said. He said Russian forces already had a list of Zelensky’s leadership and would seek to kill or arrest them if targeted airstrikes failed to achieve their goal of removing Putin’s government. But Ukraine’s military and citizens are fighting back, he said, which means Russia, with all its military might, may not easily achieve its goals. It will bleed, he said.
It had. In an exchange captured in an audio tape that has been shared and tweeted around the world, a Russian warship ordered 13 soldiers to guard the tiny Snake Island in the south of the country “first.” goods” or “bombed”. A Ukrainian border guard responds defiantly: “Russian warship,” then categorically declines the request.
The warship opened fire and killed all 13 border guards. Victory on that small battlefield could inspire Ukrainians and cost Putin in the public eye at home, a Pentagon official said.
Mr. James G. Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. “Motivation on their side is a lot higher, and the invisible can help.”
The Russian military offensive continued on Friday as it began the day before: with devastating shelling of airports and military installations across Ukraine.
The Pentagon says that the Russians, using long-range missiles and artillery, are facing particularly strong resistance near Kyiv and Karchiv.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be inside its natural sphere of influence, and it became irritated by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is also not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
However, the Russian military is also carrying out their cyberattacks on media sites and other means of communication, as well as against a large dam supplying energy across southern Ukraine, vitally important. senior Pentagon officials said. However, he added that Zelensky and his top civilian aides were still in contact with Ukrainian commanders.
Why did Russia not carry out even larger cyber attacks across the country and shut down almost all communications, in order to cut off military units from their commanders in Kyiv and with each other still? remains a mystery on Friday.
It is possible that efforts to protect Ukrainian communications against a major Russian attack have helped, US military officials said. Or, since much of Ukraine’s internet and telephone communications are believed to pass through Russia, Moscow could leave some lines open to eavesdrop on Ukrainian civilian and military officials.
By Thursday evening, Russian special forces and paratroopers had flooded the outskirts of Kyiv. And on Friday, Russian airborne forces blockaded Kyiv from the west, the Defense Ministry announced, after capturing an airport in the region in an attack that used “more than 200 aircraft.” Russian helicopters”. If accurate, that could create an air bridge that would allow Russia to fly with hundreds of troops to help lay siege to the capital.
Ukrainian forces, which officials say shot down several Russian jets and a helicopter in the earlier hours of the conflict on Thursday, are fighting across a wide front large to maintain control of their country.
At midday on Friday, Russian forces fired more than 200 missiles, mainly short-range ballistic missiles but also cruise and missile missiles fired from the Black Sea, at targets across Ukraine. unnamed Pentagon official. to discuss sensitive military assessments.
The targets were mainly military: barracks, ammunition depots and airfields, the official said, in a move expected to destroy as many of the dislodged Ukrainian troops as possible, as well as help make weaken any guerrilla movement that might rise from the ashes. of a defeated Ukrainian army.
Russia insists it does not bomb civilian targets and is trying to limit casualties for the Ukrainian army. “No attacks on civilian infrastructure are being carried out,” Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said on Friday.
However, a senior Pentagon official disputed that claim, saying that several civilian residences were attacked, although the official could not say whether they were intentionally targeted. are not.
How the battle for Kyiv ends will likely signal Mr. Putin’s larger plans for Ukraine.
“Putin’s MO is to form a new government and let them do the dirty work,” said Representative Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and former Army Green Beret who traveled to Ukraine in December. “It is not clear if he is underestimating the extent to which Ukrainian nationalism has grown since 2014.”
Mr. Waltz said he met Ukraine’s top commando during his trip in December of that year. “He’s very focused on growing a resistance organization,” said Mr. Waltz, “but I’m not sure he has enough time.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/25/us/politics/us-russia-military.html Russia’s offensive in Ukraine slows down after a positive start