Russian Combat Capability Below Ninety Percent in Ukraine: Russian losses in Ukraine keep mounting, and on Tuesday, the Pentagon released an assessment that suggests that the Kremlin’s forces have declined below 90 percent of its pre-invasion levels. The U.S. had estimated that Moscow had assembled more than 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border prior to launching its unprovoked attack on Feb. 24.
“Let me remind that… the combat power that they assembled in Belarus, and in the western part of their country prior to the invasion, it is not an assessment of all Russian military power,” a Department of Defense official said during Tuesday’s press briefing. “But we assessed it for the first time they may be just a little bit below 90 percent on that. And no indications, no tangible indications of reinforcements being brought in from elsewhere in the country, no tangible indications of foreign fighters that have flown into the country … no indications that they’ve moved in foreign fighters from Syria or elsewhere.”
Pentagon officials added there have been no “tangible indications” that Russia has made any effort to resupply its forces from outside the theater, but additional forces could be coming from elsewhere around Russia.
“It’s our assessment that as they look at reinforcements, it’s probably the most likely scenario that they would want to pull in from places not inside Russia. I’d remind you that of the battalion tactical groups that Mr. Putin has available to him across Russia, he’s used about 75 percent in this particular operation. So, I think our assumption would be he’d pull from outside the country first, but that’s an assumption and I really don’t want to get any more detailed than that,” the official added.
Russia’s Reversal of Fortune in Ukraine
Russia has thus far been largely stalled outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and earlier this week, Russian troops were even forced to “retreat” after suffering “ irreversible losses” from the suburb of Makariv, about 30 miles west of Kyiv’s city center.
Makariv was “liberated from the invaders thanks to the actions heroic actions of defenders,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense announced on Monday. “The state flag of Ukraine was raised over the city of Markarov. The enemy was driven back.”
The town has changed hands multiple times since Russia began its invasion. It was captured by Russia in late February and then liberated on March 2 before again falling to the Russians. As of Wednesday, it was still under Ukrainian control.
A month into the war, Russian troops have thus far failed to capture a single major city, while their advances have been halted on nearly every front by Ukrainian forces. As a result, Moscow has turned to bombard Ukraine’s cities with artillery, missiles, and bombs. The southeastern city of Mariupol has suffered the most, as it is strategically located between the Russian-control Crimea and the eastern Donbas region, where parts were controlled by separatist groups.
Russia Calling on China
There have been concerns in Washington that Russia may turn to China to help bolster its war effort. However, the White House said on Tuesday that there has been no evidence that Beijing has provided – or would provide – military support or equipment to Moscow.
The Biden Administration has warned Beijing that there “will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them.”
For now, China will likely continue to sit on the fence, as it has little to gain by directly supporting the Kremlin’s invasion.
Even as its casualties mount – including the loss of five generals and upwards of 12,000 troops – Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has said that the “special military operation” to “demilitarize and deNazify” Ukraine is going as planned.
Yet, if losing so many troops, as well as high-ranking military leaders, was the “plan,” we are left to wonder who came up with it.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.