Russian forces focused on sorting out logistics and regrouping on Saturday rather than undertaking offensive operations, Ukraine military officials reported in a Sunday morning update.
The military maneuvers, or lack thereof, have experts around the world increasingly concerned that a stalemate could be on the horizon, with “enormous casualties” possible as troops focus on civilian targets.
A report from the Institute for the Study of War concluded that Ukrainian forces have defeated the initial Russian campaign of the war, but the report also highlighted activity of Russian forces, which have shown signs of “digging in around the periphery of Kyiv and elsewhere.”
“Stalemate is not armistice or ceasefire. It is a condition in war in which each side conducts offensive operations that do not fundamentally alter the situation. Those operations can be very damaging and cause enormous casualties,” Frederick W. Kagan, George Barros, and Kateryna Stepanenko wrote in an assessment published Saturday.
The findings echo what experts told USA TODAY last week.
A “quagmire is the realistic ‘goal,’” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Estimates of Russian deaths vary widely. Yet even conservative figures are in the low thousands. That’s a much faster pace than in previous Russian offensives, threatening support for the war among ordinary Russians. Russia had 64 deaths in five days of fighting during its 2008 war with Georgia. It lost about 15,000 in Afghanistan over 10 years, and more than 11,000 over years of fighting in Chechnya.
Russia’s number of dead and wounded in Ukraine is nearing the 10% benchmark of diminished combat effectiveness, said Dmitry Gorenburg, a researcher on Russia’s security at the Virginia-based CNA think tank. The reported battlefield deaths of four Russian generals — out of an estimated 20 in the fight — signal impaired command, he said.
Researchers tracking only those Russian equipment losses that were photographed or recorded on video say Russia has lost more than 1,500 tanks, trucks, mounted equipment and other heavy gear. Two out of three of those were captured or abandoned, signaling the failings of the Russian troops that let them go.
When it comes to the grinding job of capturing and holding cities, conventional military metrics suggest Russia needs a 5-to-1 advantage in urban fighting, analysts say. Meanwhile, the formula for ruling a restive territory in the face of armed opposition is 20 fighters for every 1,000 people — or 800,000 Russian troops for Ukraine’s more than 40 million people, said Michael Clarke, former head of the British-based Royal United Services Institute, a defense think tank.
That’s almost as many as Russia’s entire active-duty military of 900,000, and it means controlling substantial Ukrainian territory long term could take more resources than Russia can commit, he said.
“Unless the Russians intend to be completely genocidal — they could flatten all the major cities, and Ukrainians will rise up against Russian occupation — there will be just constant guerrilla war,” said Clarke.
Latest developments below
►At least 847 civilians, including 64 children, have been killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reported Saturday, but the agency said the actual figures are much higher. Agents also estimated the violence had left nearly 1,400 civilians injured, including 78 children.
►Sunday’s intelligence update from the British defense ministry said as Russia has failed to make progress in capturing cities in eastern Ukraine, forces have increased “indiscriminate shelling of urban areas resulting in widespread destruction and large numbers of civilian casualties.”
►Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday again appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to hold talks with him directly. Zelenskyy told Ukrainians the ongoing negotiations with Russia were “not simple or pleasant, but they are necessary.” He said he discussed the course of the talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday.
►Russia said it used a hypersonic missile Friday to strike a western Ukraine target, the Interfax news agency reported. Hypersonic missiles are missiles that can move at five times the speed of sound. The Russian military said these missiles are capable of hitting targets at a range of more than 1,200 miles, or roughly the distance from New York City to Kansas City.
►The Mariupol city council claimed Russian soldiers have forced several thousand city residents to be relocated to Russia. “The occupiers illegally took people out of the Levoberezhny district and a shelter in the building of a sports club, where more than a thousand people (mostly women and children) were hiding from constant bombing,” the council said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Russians bomb Mariupol art school sheltering hundreds
Authorities in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol say that the Russian military has bombed an art school where about 400 people had taken refuge.
Local authorities said Sunday that the school building was destroyed and people could remain under the rubble. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Russian forces on Wednesday also bombed a theater in Mariupol where civilians took shelter. The authorities said 130 people were rescued but many more could remain under the debris.
Mariupol, a strategic port on the Azov Sea, has been encircled by the Russian troops, cut from energy, food and water supplies and faced a relentless bombardment.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the siege of Mariupol would go down in history for what he said were war crimes committed by Russian troops.
= The Associated Press
Zelenskyy restricts political parties in Ukraine
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has ordered to suspend activities of 11 political parties with links to Russia.
The largest of them is the Opposition Platform for Life, which has 44 out of 450 seats in the country’s parliament. The party is led by Viktor Medvedchuk, who has friendly ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of Medvedchuk’s daughter.
Also on the list is the Nashi (Ours) party led by Yevheniy Murayev. Before the Russian invasion. the British authorities had warned that Russia wanted to install Murayev as the leader of Ukraine.
Speaking in a video address early Sunday, Zelenskyy said that “given a large-scale war unleashed by the Russian Federation and links between it and some political structures, the activities of a number of political parties is suspended for the period of the martial law.” He added that “activities by politicians aimed at discord and collaboration will not succeed.”
Zelenskyy’s announcement follows the introduction of the martial law that envisages a ban on parties associated with Russia.
20 babies from surrogate moms in bomb shelter
In peacetime, Ukraine has a thriving surrogate industry, one of the few countries where foreigners can get Ukrainian women to carry their pregnancies. Now at least 20 of those babies are stuck in a makeshift bomb shelter in Ukraine’s capital, waiting for parents to travel into the war zone to pick them up.
They’re well cared for at the moment. Surrogacy center nurses are stranded with them, because constant shelling makes it too dangerous for them to go home. Russian troops are trying to encircle the city, with Ukrainian defenders holding them off for now, the threat comes from the air.
Nurse Lyudmilla Yashchenko says they’re staying in the bomb shelter to save their lives, and the lives of the babies, some of whom are just days old. They have enough food and baby supplies for now, and can only hope and wait for the newborns to be picked up, and the war to end.
– The Associated Press
►Ukrainian refugees:Millions of refugees are fleeing Ukraine. Where are they going?
Chinese diplomat: NATO cannot expand eastward
A Chinese diplomat says NATO should stick to what he claimed was a promise not to expand eastward.
In a speech on Saturday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng criticized the far-reaching Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine and said the root cause of the war in Ukraine “lies in the Cold War mentality and power politics.”
Echoing a Kremlin talking point, the Chinese envoy said if NATO’s “enlargement goes further, it would be approaching the ‘outskirts of Moscow’ where a missile could hit the Kremlin within seven or eight minutes.”
“Pushing a major country, especially a nuclear power, to the corner would entail repercussions too dreadful to contemplate,” he said.
He expressed an understanding for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s oft-repeated position, saying that NATO should have disintegrated and “been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact.”
He said Chinese President Xi Jinping in talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday urged the parties in Ukraine to “keep the dialogue and negotiation going. The U.S. and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.”
– The Associated Press