Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

March 28, 2022

Ukraine's military said late Sunday that Russian forces had been forced to leave positions northeast of Kyiv after suffering "significant losses," and Ukrainian forces had retaken the town of Trostyanets near the northeastern border with Russia, opening a potential road to the encircled provincial capital of Sumy. Ukraine's armed forces said two Russian battalion tactical groups outside Kyiv had retreated back to Belarus.. Retaking Trostyanets "demonstrates that the Ukrainians are able to counterattack, which means Russia can't assume that once they hold ground they have secured it," Jack Watling at Britain's Royal United Services Institute think tank, tells The Wall Street Journal. "That limits the amount of resource they can apply to the place they are trying to take at any one time." Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Agency, said Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has realized "he can't swallow the entire country" so "there is reason to believe that he is considering a 'Korean' scenario for Ukraine," in which Russia "will try to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state structure" and then "impose a dividing line between the unoccupied and occupied regions of our country. In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine."   Russia continues to fire missiles at targets across Ukraine, adding to the deaths and more than $63 billion in infrastructure damages it has inflicted in its first month of invasion, according to a Kyiv School of Economics estimate. But Russia said Friday it will now concentrate its military focus on Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. Ukraine isn't giving up the Donbas without a fight. "Ongoing logistical shortages have been compounded by a continued lack of momentum and morale amongst the Russian military, and aggressive fighting by the Ukrainians," Britain's Ministry of Defense said early Monday. "Russia has gained most ground in the south in the vicinity of Mariupol where heavy fighting continues as Russia attempts to capture the port." Capturing Mariupol would give Russia a land corridor to Crimea, which it took from Ukraine in 2014, and free up forces to push west toward Odessa, once "one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the Russian empire" and a city "has shown significant pro-Russia feelings in the recent past," but no more, The Associated Press reports. "The seizure of Odessa and the strip of land farther west also would allow Moscow to build a land corridor to the separatist Trans-Dniester region of neighboring Moldova that hosts a Russian military base."

March 25, 2022

Russia has been trying to make up for its setbacks on the ground in Ukraine with missiles and bombs, and the Russians have launched at least 1,200 missiles "of all stripes and sizes" in the first 28 days of their invasion, a senior U.S. defense officials said Wednesday. But not all of those missiles are hitting their marks. Three U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday that Russia is suffering failure rates as high as 60 percent for some of the precision-guided missiles it's using to attack Ukraine. "Such a high failure rate can include anything from launch failures to a missile failing to explode on impact," Reuters reports. "The disclosure could help explain why Russia has failed to achieve what most could consider basic objectives since its invasion a month ago, such as neutralizing Ukraine's air force, despite the apparent strength of its military against Ukraine's much smaller armed forces." The failure rate for Russia's missiles varies from day to day and depends on the type of missile being launched, the U.S. officials told Reuters, citing U.S. intelligence. Air-launched cruise missiles, for example, are failing at a rate of 20 percent to 60 percent. Two experts told Reuters that any failure rate above 20 percent would be considered high. But Russia still has "the vast majority of their assembled available inventory of surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles available to them," the senior Pentagon official said Wednesday. "I mean, they've expended a lot, but they put a lot into the effort. And they still have an awful lot left." And even 40 percent of 1,200 missiles would do a lot of damage. On Friday, Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that Russia destroyed "the largest of the remaining fuel depot of the Ukrainian armed forces," outside Kyiv" with "sea-launched Kalibr precision cruise missiles." But Russia's failure to shock and awe Ukraine isn't impressing the Pentagon. "I think with a high degree of certainty that Russia will emerge from Ukraine weaker than it went into the conflict," Pentagon policy chief Colin Kahl said Thursday. "Militarily weaker, economically weaker, politically and geopolitically weaker, and more isolated." Kahl added that an upcoming Pentagon defense strategy document would asses Russia as an "acute threat" that, unlike China, poses no long-term systems challenge to the U.S.

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