Russian offensive in Kyiv stalls as Ukrainians counterattack in south

“The main objectives of the first stage of the operation have generally been achieved,” said Sergei Rudskoi, first deputy of the Russian general staff.

It’s unclear what those goals were, but he added that it “allows us to focus our grassroots efforts on achieving the main goal, the liberation of Donbass.”

As fighting in the north stalls, the recasting of the war as a struggle for the Donbass region – much of which was already under the control of Russian-backed separatists since the first invasion of Moscow in 2014 — is a major recalibration from the maximalist regime change goals of President Vladimir Putin in the early days of the conflict.

“We think they are trying to cut off the Donbass area,” a senior defense official told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday, “they are putting their priorities and their efforts in eastern Ukraine, and that’s where there is still a lot of heavy fighting.”

Fighting in Donbass, in the east and south of the country, has been fierce, with tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops resisting attacks on multiple fronts. These forces, known as the Joint Forces Operation, are slowly being surrounded by Russian forces which have made small but steady gains during days of fierce fighting.

But the stalled Russian offensive in northern and western kyiv has been a major headache for the Kremlin, and has led to Russian troops digging into defensive positions as they wait for resupply and support, a sign potential for a longer campaign than it did. probably been considered by the Kremlin.

The Russian Defense Ministry noted on Friday that 1,351 soldiers have been killed in Ukraine, along with 3,825 injured.

Some of that support may come from Russian troops stationed in Georgia, which Russia also invaded in 2008 and maintains a militarized presence in two breakaway areas, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The US official confirmed reports of Russian troops moving into Georgia.

It would be the first time that Russia has deployed more troops to Ukraine outside of the 150,000 it had amassed around the country’s borders before invading on February 24, another indication that the Kremlin is rethinking the way it fights and strengthen the war effort.

As Russian commanders look for ways to reinforce their troops on the ground and focus on Donbass and eliminate resistance in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol, reports indicate that the Ukrainians have launched a new counterattack in the port city. southern Kherson, one of the first urban areas to be surrounded by Russian forces at the start of the war.

The scale of the offensive is unclear, but it could just create a new problem for already stretched Russian forces on the ground, which are struggling to consolidate their gains.


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