The Pentagon provided daily updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s efforts to resist.
Here are highlights of what a senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday as of Day 28:
Russian troops face major setback east of kyiv and move to defensive positions
In a significant move, Ukrainian military forces have pushed Russian forces east of kyiv 55 kilometers from the city center, according to a senior defense official.
For weeks, and as recently as Tuesday, Russian forces were kept at bay about 20 to 30 kilometers from the center of the capital.
The official said Ukrainian forces near Bovary “were able to push the Russians back about 55 kilometers east and northeast of Kyiv.”
The ability to push Russian forces back almost twice as far as where they had been for weeks is in line with what the official said on Tuesday, indicating that in some areas Ukrainian forces were trying to retake territory taken by the Russia. “The Ukrainians are not only in some of these places defending enough, they go on the attack in some of these places and actually push the Russians backwards, or in the case of kyiv, they basically force them into a defensive position,” the official said on Wednesday.
The United States now assesses that Russian troops who have been pinned down 12 to 15 kilometers north of the city are “digging in” and establishing defensive positions according to the official. “They are forcing them into a defensive position,” the official told reporters on Wednesday. “So it’s not that they’re not moving forward, they’re actually not trying to move forward right now,” the official said. “They are taking more defensive positions.”
“We’re starting to see him sort of digging around Kyiv, but really trying to go more attacking than they’ve been, more energy applied, in that eastern part of Ukraine,” he said. said the official.
Ukrainians repel Russian troops in Cherniviv
Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops in the town of Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv, also managed to push back slightly some of the Russian forces that had surrounded the town for weeks. The official described Ukrainian forces there as continuing to fight “very hard” against Russian forces to keep them out of the city and in some cases Russian troops “gave ground”. “They are actually moving in the opposite direction, but not by much,” the official said of Russian forces around the city.
Russian troops are now prioritizing operations in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine
The official said Russia appears to be ‘starting to prioritize’ its operations in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region, particularly around Luhansk, to cut off the Ukrainian military fighting separatists there Russians for eight years. “We still believe that the Russians are basically trying to cut it off and therefore pin down the Ukrainian forces that are in the Lugansk, Donetsk region,” the official said.
“What we are seeing now are indications that the Russians are really starting to prioritize this part of eastern Ukraine,” the official said. “We think they will now start to apply, in fact they have put a lot more energy in the Luhansk region, Donetsk, especially around Luhansk. You really see them putting more energy and effort in this part of Ukraine.”
The official previously said it appears Russian forces are fighting to take control of the southern port city of Mariupol so they can then push north into the Donbass to cut off the Ukrainian army. Meanwhile, the fighting in this town remains “very highly contested” according to the official who also described the fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops as “hardcore”. The official noted that Russian forces continue to heavily bombard the city with artillery and long-range missile fire.
Meanwhile, it appears recent Russian military activity around the western port city of Odessa, which has led to speculation of an attack on the city, may have been a feint intended to ‘pin down Ukrainian forces’. . “It’s not entirely clear that they’re actually going to take a step towards Odessa,” the official said. “So we’re just watching that to see where it goes.”
More US troops going to Eastern Europe?
The official said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is still assessing the US military presence in Eastern Europe and has not “taken off the table” the possibility “that he will bring in more forces from the states States or is repositioning itself elsewhere in Europe”.
But for now there is no announcement to be made, the official said who added that it was unclear what the US military position in Eastern Europe will look like in the future. . “Certainly, the security environment in Europe is different now. And it will be different, regardless of the outcome of this war,” the official said.
“I think it’s safe to say that the United States along with other NATO nations will be scrutinized to see if we have the right footprint and if the posture is appropriate for the new security environment that results from all of that,” the official said.
Russia still has plenty of missiles to use
According to the official, Russia has now launched more than 1,200 missiles into Ukraine, but “we still estimate that they have the vast majority of their surface-to-air missile and cruise missile inventory available.” Although the Russian military has spent much of the missile inventory prepared for operations in Ukraine, the official noted that “they still have plenty left over.”
The official said the Russian military is “running low on our air-launched cruise missiles” but still has “more than 50% of what it assembled before the invasion. But it has still a significant number of land-launched cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles.