They can be clearly seen in satellite images and TikTok movies on the Internet: foxholes. It appears that Russian forces are digging in the north of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. It is an indication that the war in Ukraine may have reached a stalemate after more than three weeks of fighting.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which does a detailed analysis of hostilities every day, came to a definite conclusion on Saturday: “In our estimation, the Russian operation to seize the Ukrainian capital and other major cities and system change To force, fail.”
The US think tank notes that Russian forces are making some progress here and there, but the goal of bringing Kyiv, Kharkov, and other major cities under control appears far off. According to the institute, the Russian campaign has reached a point where operations must end and a new plan must be drawn up. Instead, Moscow is trying to force a decision by bringing in reinforcements little by little. “Our assessment is that these attempts will fail,” ISW wrote.
The Russian armed forces, in just over three weeks of fighting, suffered heavy losses. US government officials said last week New York times That, according to a conservative estimate, 7,000 Russian soldiers were killed. This is more than the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US estimate is higher than that of the Ukrainian General Staff, which reported that 14,700 Russians were killed and wounded on Sunday (the number of wounded is usually at least twice the number killed).
Kyiv also claims to have destroyed a huge amount of Russian equipment, including 476 tanks, 1,487 armored personnel carriers and 96 aircraft. On the Ukrainian side, President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week, about 1,300 soldiers were killed.
Whatever the exact numbers, it is clear that heavy losses began to undermine the combat power of Russia. The fierce fighting around Mariupol, which the Russians must fight street by street, is devouring more and more manpower. Russian forces are trying to advance towards the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine to threaten Zaporizhia and Dnipro from the west, but the number of forces seems too small to capture a city of over 600,000 people. Attempts to encircle Kyiv seem to have been abandoned for the time being.
Also read this hacked report: In Mariupol, death is everywhere
The halt in the Russian advance does not mean that the fighting has decreased. The Russian invasion may turn into a war of attrition in the coming weeks… war of attrition Not only heavy military losses on both sides, but also large numbers of civilian casualties.
Over the past week, an ominous trend appears to be continuing in this regard. With the Russians unable to capture cities like Kharkov and Kiev, artillery and aerial bombardments are on the increase. According to the British Ministry of Defense, “Russia will likely continue to use heavy weapons in urban attacks to limit its already significant losses – at the cost of further civilian casualties.”
The only thing that can break the deadlock is the participation of Belarusian forces. Last Sunday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported – for the 1,000th time – that there were indications of a “direct invasion by the armed forces of Belarus”. The question is whether these reports are true, because enthusiasm among Belarusians appears to be scant. According to the Ukrainian Minister of State for Defense Anna Malgar, her ministry receives many questions from Belarusian soldiers about the best way to surrender. Malgar says Kyiv wants to help them as best it can.
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of March 21, 2022
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