Washington [US]: The Russian “invasion” prong aimed at the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv appears to be stalled, while fighting rages in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, a senior US defence official said on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed more than 150,000 troops in 120 battalion tactical groups on the border of Ukraine since last fall, and about 90 percent of the forces have invaded, the US official was quoted as saying by US Defence Department.
In the southern part of the besieged country, news reports indicate the Russians have taken the city of Kherson, but US officials cannot independently confirm this development. Russian forces did get closer to Mariupol and are shelling the city.
The Russians are also shelling Kyiv and Kharkiv, with more rounds hitting civilian targets, according to the US defence department.
“Obviously, [the Russians] are hitting residential areas. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “The degree to which that is intentional — and intentionally precise, in that regard — is difficult for us to assess. But clearly it’s happening.”
Across northern Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be largely stalled, the official said. “In Kyiv, the Russian forces remain north and northwest of the city,” he said. The capital city is under increasing bombardment.
In Kharkiv, officials assess that the Russian forces now appear to be just outside the city, very near the ring road, a bypass road around the city.
Ukrainian command and control nodes continue to function, and Ukraine’s air defences remain effective, the US official said. “They continue to be able to fly their airplanes and to employ air-defence assets,” the official said. “And, as of this morning, we have now counted more than 480 Russian missile launchers, again, of all of all sizes and stripes.”
The defense official said the United States cannot confirm that Russia is using cluster munitions or thermobaric fuel-air bombs against Ukraine.
The Russian movements may appear to be stalled, but there is still a lot of combat power available to Putin, the US official said. Ukrainian fighting abilities have had an effect on the Russians, as have problems with logistics and sustainment, or they may be pausing to reassess their campaign and redirect their efforts, the official added.