Pentagon

May 5, 2022

Russia is concentrating most of its military efforts in Ukraine on trying to capture territory in the east and south of the country, but it continues to strike cities and towns across Ukraine. And on Tuesday and Wednesday those strikes targeted electrical substations, railroad facilities, and other infrastructure in western and central Ukraine.  The Russian Defense Ministry said the attacks on the rail infrastructure are meant to disrupt the delivery of Western weapons — Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu griped that the U.S. and its allies are "stuffing Ukraine with weapons." A senior Pentagon official said Wednesday that despite Russia's efforts, "there's been no impact to our ability to continue flows into Ukraine. We've seen no indications that any of this Western aid has been impeded or even struck." "There's no indication at all that there's a Russian impediment to the flow" of U.S. arms to Ukraine, the Pentagon official said. "Our focus is on getting it to them. Their focus is on getting it into the fight and using it. And that's happening." Ukraine has 81 of 90 promised U.S. howitzers, and "we know that they are using some of those howitzers in the fight," the official said, "but I think I'm just going to demur" on the specific number. The flow of weapons into Ukraine "continues every single day," and they "are getting into Ukrainian hands," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said later Wednesday. "We're not going to talk about the ways in which materials getting inside Ukraine," but "there are lots of ways to do that" and "those ways change over time." Ukraine and Russia both rely on the rail systems to transport military personnel and supplies, the Pentagon official said, but the Russian strikes on critical infrastructure out west have had "no appreciable impact" on Ukraine's ability to replenish its forces. Overall, Russia's "ability to target with precision has been less than advertised throughout this entire war," Kirby added. "They are not good at precision strikes." Russia's strikes on "non-military targets" also show its "willingness to target civilian infrastructure in an attempt to weaken Ukrainian resolve" and damage its economy, Britain's Ministry of Defense said. These missile strikes on our cities "will get proper answers," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed Wednesday night. "Both legal and quite practical — on the battlefield."

March 17, 2022

Most of Russia's military offensives in Ukraine continue to be stalled amid fierce Ukrainian resistance, but Russia's military continues to fire dozens of missiles and rockets at Ukrainian civilian and military targets every day, a senior U.S. defense official said at a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday.  The U.S. estimates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "around 75 percent of his total military committed to the fight in Ukraine," the official said, clarifying later that the 75 percent figure mostly refers to "battalion tactical groups, which is the units that he has primarily relied upon."  "At the height of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we were about 29 percent committed," former U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges noted Tuesday at the Center for European Policy Analysis think tank. "And it was difficult to sustain that." Britain's Ministry of Defense said Tuesday that given Putin's significant "personnel losses" in Ukraine, "Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet, and Armenia. It is also increasingly seeking to exploit irregular sources such as private military companies, Syrian and other mercenaries."  The U.S. official said the Pentagon has seen the Russians "deliberate and discuss the possibility of resupply to include replacement troops," and given the deaths, injuries, and defections they are suffering every day, "it certainly stands to reason that they would want to be exploring options to replenish those losses." However, "we haven't seen any indications that anything is moving right now outside of what they have already in Ukraine," the official said, cautioning that "we still assess that they have the vast amount of their combat power available to them" in Ukraine. "It's pretty clear that Russian generals are running out of time, ammunition, and manpower,"  CEPA's Hodges wrote. "There is no suggestion that the Russians have big units lurking in the woods somewhere," and "it's apparent that the notional 900,000 strength of the Russian military is a hollow number. " Russia will call up another 130,000 conscripts on April 1, he added, but while "the Ukrainian diaspora is flocking home to help the fight; Russians are not coming back home — and indeed, many are leaving to avoid Putin's fight."

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