Pentagon says some Russian soldiers are surrendering instead of fighting
WASHINGTON – Plagued by poor morale as well as fuel and food shortages, some Russian troops in Ukraine have surrendered en masse or vandalized their own vehicles to escape fighting, a senior Pentagon official said. said on Tuesday.
The official said some entire Russian units have laid down their weapons without a fight after facing surprisingly harsh Ukrainian defences. A significant number of Russian soldiers are young soldiers who are poorly trained and unprepared for an all-out attack. And in some cases, Russian soldiers have intentionally drilled holes in the gas tanks of their vehicles, possibly to avoid combat, the official said.
The Pentagon official declined to say how the military made these assessments – possibly a mosaic of intelligence that includes statements and communications intercepts from captured Russian soldiers – or how widespread the tremors might be across the battlefield. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss operational developments.
But taking these factors together may help explain why Russian forces, including an ominous 40-mile convoy of tanks and armored vehicles near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, have come to a crawl over the past day or two, according to the US officials said.
In addition to dealing with shortages of fuel, food and spare parts, the Pentagon official said, Russian commanders leading that armored column toward Kyiv may also “regroup and rethink” their battle plans, based on US intelligence. Adjustments are made on the fly to gain speed. Military officials say there is an inevitable push to surround and eventually capture the capital over the next several days.
“They have a lot of power available to them,” the Pentagon official said, adding that 80 percent of the more than 150,000 Russian troops that had been deposited on Ukraine’s borders have now joined the fighting.
But US analysts have been struck by the “risk-averse behavior” of such a force, the Pentagon official said. Russia launched an amphibious landing to seize Mariupol, an important port city on the Azov Sea, but the forces landed about 40 miles from the city. This allowed additional time and space for the Russians to attack, but also gave the city’s defenders time to prepare.
Russia’s defiant air force has yet to achieve air superiority over Ukraine, with Russian warplanes thwarted by Ukrainian fighters and an astonishingly flexible and powerful air defense system, shoulder-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. to very large surface-to-air weapons, the Pentagon official said.
A European official said on Tuesday that logistics problems had proved stubborn for Russian forces moving out of Belarus.
Prior to the invasion, US and British intelligence had raised questions about the supply chain for Russian troops in Belarus. According to independent analysts, during military exercises there, some soldiers were getting inadequate supplies of food and fuel. But US officials told allies that the Russians had fixed those problems by mid-February, which was one reason why US warnings about an invasion intensified in the middle of last month, according to the European official, who discussed the issue. Spoke on condition of anonymity for operational development.
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But the challenges faced by the Russian military show that their supply chain problems have not been fully resolved, the European official said.
The European official said logistical failures may help explain the presence of a long, slow-moving convoy of military equipment that is approaching Kyiv, a tactical failure that could present a significant target for the Ukrainian military. The European official said.
Russian officials, the European official said, hope to achieve air supremacy, at least around Kyiv. But the fact that the Ukrainian air defense system was still operating put both Russian aircraft and the convoy of equipment at risk.
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