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Shelling Cities: Is Russia About to Go ‘Scorched Earth’ Against Ukraine?

Russian troops fire rocket artillery during an exercise at the Luga training ground (Leningrad region), dedicated to Missile Troops and Artillery. Photo: Konstantin Morozov /

Why is Russia failing to achieve victory in Ukraine? On day five of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces are still struggling to meet their objectives as Ukrainian resistance continues to be fierce. Over the past two days, Russian forces have failed to make any significant progress.

The intensity of the Ukrainian resistance has pushed Moscow to the negotiating table, and mediators from the two sides will be meeting at the Belarus-Ukraine border.

Why Can’t Russia Conquer Ukraine? A War Not Going Well…

As of Monday morning, the Ukrainian military was claiming that it had killed approximately 4,500 troops and destroyed or captured 150 tanks, 27 aircraft, 26 helicopters, and 706 armored personnel carriers, supply, and support vehicles. Although these figures haven’t been verified by the Pentagon, footage from the ground in Ukraine shows large numbers of destroyed or captured Russian materiel by Ukrainian forces.

“We do continue to see Russian momentum slowed; they continue to face stiff resistance. We continue to observe that they have experienced fuel and logistics shortages. This is most particularly acute in their advanced on Kharkiv. Although we believe that they are facing some logistics challenges as well on their advanced [sic] down north to Kyiv,” a senior U.S. defense official said on Sunday.

The Pentagon official added that there is no indication that the Russian military has taken control of any major cities, despite that being their primary goal.

“We have seen reports that, as I said yesterday that some reconnaissance elements were in Kyiv and, and we’ve seen reports that we have no reason to doubt, that some of these Recon elements are actually wearing Ukrainian uniforms to try to disguise themselves and what they’re doing,” the U.S. defense official added.

In a break from previous standard operating procedures, Russian forces have started shelling urban areas, evidently frustrated by the lack of progress and the fierce Ukrainian resistance. Footage from the ground suggests that Russia’s forces might have even employed cluster munitions, which are banned by the Geneva Convention and would constitute a war crime.

Addressing the Russian population, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that no conscript soldiers have been deployed to Ukraine and that only officers and contract (professional) soldiers are taking part in the invasion.

Kyiv Defies Predictions and Keeps Holding On: What Will Russia Do Next? 

The Russian strategy relied on the quick capture of Kyiv, which would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to replace the Ukrainian government with a puppet regime and thus avoid a protracted conventional war and then an insurgency. However, those plans have failed as the Ukrainian capital holds fast against the columns of Russian tanks and troops.

Russia's T-90 Tank

Russia’s T-90 Tank.

However, a huge Russian convoy is approaching the city from the North. First detected on Sunday by commercial satellites, the Russian military convoy is at least 17 miles long and approximately 30 miles off Kyiv. U.S. defense officials believe that this latest Russian set of reinforcements will be used to encircle and besiege Kyiv.

Should Kyiv continue to hold even in the fast of renewed attacks, Ukraine will have a better negotiating position in the truce talks that are currently underway.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.