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U.S. confirms Ukraine struck Russian resupply ship

▶ Watch Video: Zelenskyy asks for more support for Ukraine amid Russian invasion

A senior U.S. defense official briefed reporters on the Pentagon’s latest assessments of Russia’s war in Ukraine — here are some of the highlights:

Russian cruise missiles suffer high failure rates 

Russia is experiencing high cruise missile failure rates upon launch, ranging from “20% to 60%” a senior defense official said this week, citing U.S. assessments. 

In many cases, the official noted, the air-launched cruise missiles simply don’t release from the rails of the plane that is trying to fire them. Russian planes are currently flying about 300 sorties a day.

Further, Russian forces appear to be running lowest on air-launched cruise missiles and may be trying conserve those missiles, the official said. Though they still have about 50% of their stockpile remaining, the declining stocks of precision-guided missiles is a factor in the increasing use of dumb bombs.  Russia’s assault on Ukraine, now in its 30th day, has fired 1,260 missiles, according to the official. 

Russian troops no longer moving toward Kyiv

It appears that Russia, for the moment, is not pursuing a ground offense against Kyiv, though the capital continues to be hammered by missile and artillery fire. Russian troops are no longer moving toward Kyiv, and there has been no movement from the north or northwest. They are also being held to positions they had in the east and continuing to dig into defensive positions.

U.S. defense officials assess that the Donbass region is now the Kremlin’s top priority, but it’s still too early to determine whether Russia has begun to limit its objectives, perhaps trying to split off that part of the country.

As Russian combat power on the ground suffers declines — now assessed to be about 85 to 90% of what it was a month ago, with reduced numbers of troops, tanks, military vehicles and aircraft — the U.S. is seeing the first indications that Russian troops are moving in from Georgia.

Ukraine strikes Russian resupply ship

The Defense Department confirmed that Ukrainian forces struck the Russian military resupply ship Orsk while it was docked at the port of Berdyansk, in southern Ukraine. Just a couple days earlier, Russian state media had shown video of the military landing ship offloading armored vehicles and tanks at the port, which had been taken over by Russia. From the images available, officials believe that Ukraine destroyed the ship. 

The heaviest fighting continues to be taking place in Mariupol, Donbass, Mykolaiv and Chernihiv. Defense officials have seen reports Ukrainians are pushing the Russians out of Mykolaiv and Chernihiv, and there has been significant Ukrainian resistance in Kherson, which is no longer as solidly under Russian control as it was.

There has been no confirmation of the Ukrainian claim that Russia has used phosphorus or thermobaric weapons.

 



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