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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

US official: Russia’s combat power is declining in Ukraine

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s combat power in Ukraine has fallen below 90 percent of its pre-invasion level for the first time since its offensive began, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday, noting which has suffered great losses in arms and lives.
The United States estimated that Russia had massed more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine before the February 24 invasion, along with enough planes, artillery, tanks and other weapons for its all-out offensive.

“For the first time, they may be just below 90 percent,” the US official told reporters, asking not to be identified. The official did not provide evidence.

A month into the war, Russian forces had failed to capture any major cities and Ukrainian forces had halted their advance on almost all fronts. Instead, Moscow resorted to bombarding cities with artillery, missiles, and bombs. Russia denies targeting civilians.

The shelling was largely focused on the city of Mariupol in the southeast. The senior US official said the Russian Navy had likely been firing at Mariupol from the Sea of ​​Azov for the past 24 hours.

“That was not the case yesterday,” the official added.

Russia has not released official casualty figures since announcing on March 2 that 498 soldiers had been killed and 1,597 wounded.

But his offensive has since met stiff resistance from the Ukrainian military and volunteer defense forces.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan put the Russian death toll in the thousands on Tuesday but declined to provide an exact figure.

As the casualties of the conflict mounted, the United States warned that Russia could look to China for help. However, the White House said on Tuesday that it had not seen any evidence that China provided military equipment to Russia.

The US official said there is no indication that Russia is directing additional supplies to Ukraine so far.

“But we are still seeing signs that they are having these discussions, that they are making these plans in terms of resupply as well as reinforcements,” the official said.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine forced more than 3.5 million to flee, led to the unprecedented isolation of the Russian economy by Western sanctions and raised fears of a wider conflict in the West unimaginable for decades.

Putin describes the conflict as a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and replace its pro-Western leadership, saying the operation is going according to plan.

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