- The Washington Times
Sunday, February 27, 2022

Russian forces are continuing to face stiff resistance from the Ukrainian military as fuel and logistics problems have hampered their advance in the northern sections of the country, a senior Pentagon official said Sunday.

The resistance is most pronounced as the Russians move toward the city of Kharkiv, but they also are facing challenges on their advance to Kyiv, the senior Defense Department official told reporters. The analysis largely matches that of private military specialists who say Russian forces have encountered far more obstacles than they likely anticipated. 

Russian forces remain about 20 miles outside Kyiv’s city center — roughly the same position they were 24 hours earlier.

“We still, as of this morning, have no indication that the Russian military has taken control of any cities but clearly, that continues to be in our view their goal,” the Defense Department official said.

U.S. officials are not disputing reports that some Russian reconnaissance units may be wearing Ukrainian uniforms as part of a deception plan. “That’s right out of the Russian playbook here,” the Pentagon official said.

While it was clear the Russians have been frustrated by the logistics challenges they have faced since the start of their invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon believes they will eventually learn and overcome them. Russia continues to enjoy a major manpower and firepower advantage over its smaller neighbor.

But Ukraine’s command-and-control structures appear to have survived the initial onslaught since Wednesday remarkably well. Ukraine has not yielded control of the airspace to the invading Russian forces and continues to field a viable and credible air force and missile defense force in operation, although both have been degraded since the start of the war, officials said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered into the attack on Ukraine about two-thirds of more than 150,000 Russian forces arrayed along the border and within Belarus. They have launched more than 320 missiles — mostly short-range ballistic — since the invasion began.

“We have seen some indications that they have experienced failures in some of these launches,” the Defense Department official said.

Russian forces on Sunday were about 30 miles from the city center of Mariupol, located on the Sea of Azov in the southeast of Ukraine. Intelligence also indicates the Kremlin may be setting the stage for a siege of Chernihiv, about 80 miles northeast of Kyiv on the border with Belarus, Pentagon officials said.

“This is combat and combat is ugly. It’s messy, it’s bloody and it’s not wholly predictable,” the Defense Department official said.

The U.S. is continuing to send lethal and non-lethal support to Ukraine’s military even with the ongoing Russian invasion. 

“Support continues to flow, not just from the United States but from other countries as well. It’s accelerating and it’s increasing,” the Defense Department official said. “We want to make sure it gets into the hands of the Ukrainian armed forces and Ukrainian fighters. We don’t want that to be disrupted.”

Ukrainian officials say some 3,000 Russian troops have already been killed in the fight, a total that could not be verified independently. Russia has not issued an official toll of its losses in the conflict.

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

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