- The Washington Times
Friday, February 25, 2022

Ukraine’s military has been putting up a stiffer defense against the massive Russian invasion than even the most hardline backer of Russian President Vladimir Putin might have anticipated. 

The country’s air and missile defense systems are still operating — although in a degraded state — and Ukraine’s ground troops are continuing to fight the advancing Russian forces.

It appears the Russians have lost some of their momentum since the invasion began early Thursday, a senior Defense Department official said Friday.

“They are not advancing as far or as fast as we believe they expected to,” the official told reporters at the Pentagon.

Russia has sent about 50,000 troops into Ukraine — about one-third of the total number of military personnel arrayed along the border and within Belarus. 

Moscow has not achieved complete air superiority, which is a critical element of any military campaign. Ukraine is continuing to engage and deny air access to Russian combat aircraft, the official said.

Russia has launched a mix of more than 200 ballistic and cruise missiles into Ukraine since the hostilities commenced. Some of them struck civilian residential areas, but Pentagon officials said they didn’t know the number of casualties.

The Defense Department official said Russia launched an amphibious assault on Ukraine from the Sea of Azov, west of the critical port city of Mariupol. Intelligence indicated thousands of Russian naval infantry troops were moving ashore.

“Here at the Department of Defense, we’re still looking for ways to assist Ukraine in its ability to defend itself,” the senior Pentagon official said.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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