Russia ramps up missile strikes on Kyiv as ground forces stall: Pentagon Day 20 update


(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon has been providing daily updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s efforts to resist.

Here are highlights of what a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Tuesday on Day 20:

Russians step up missile strikes on Kyiv as ground forces stall

Russian forces have gained little ground in Ukraine over recent days, according to the Pentagon. The closest invaders to Kyiv have been stalled roughly 9 to 12 miles northwest of the city’s center for nearly a week. Other troops advancing on the capital from the northeast are still 12 to 19 miles out, where they’ve been for at least four days.

But while its ground effort on Kyiv has been largely halted, Russia has ramped up its bombardment of the city, hitting residential areas with long-range missiles more frequently.

The pattern is similar across the country, including in the port city of Mariupol, which is being isolated by Russian forces and is suffering heavy bombardment.

Russia has now launched more than 950 missiles against Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, according to the official. This is up from an estimated 900 on Monday.

A war with many fronts

Russian troops remain on the outskirts of Kharkiv, where they continue to meet strong Ukrainian resistance, according to the senior U.S. defense official.

Last week the official said Russian forces were ” just outside the city” of Mykolayiv. In Monday’s update the official said the U.S. has seen no new movement toward or past the city.

Pentagon officials have speculated that Russian troops might intend to take Mykolayiv to put themselves in position for a ground attack on the key port city of Odessa while other troops launch an amphibious assault from the Black Sea.

While the U.S. has observed several Russian landing craft operating in the northern Black Sea, so far there are no signs of an imminent amphibious movement toward Odessa, the official said.

Military power mostly intact

Despite 20 days of heavy fighting and losses on the Russian and Ukrainian sides, both countries have roughly 90% of their combat power still intact, according to the official. For Russia, that’s counting only the forces Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to the invasion.

“We have seen no movement of Russian forces stationed elsewhere in Russia being deployed to the west to reinforce the [battalion tactical groups] the Russians already have in Ukraine,” the official said. “And we’ve seen no evidence of Russian efforts to flow in additional supplies from inside Russia or from elsewhere, but we have reason to believe the Russians are considering their resupply and manning options.”

There are also no indications at this point that Belarus is preparing to send troops of its own to join the invasion, the official added.

US weapons to Ukraine

Weapons from the United States and other nations continues to flow into Ukraine, including over the last 24 hours, the official said.

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