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Russian Military Efforts Stymied by Blunders, Stiff Ukrainian Resistance, Defense Official Says

Ukrainian resistance continues to be "stiff and determined," a senior defense official said today at a Pentagon press briefing. 

"Frankly, [the Ukrainians are] being very strategic about how they're defending and where they are putting their resources where they're most needed. They are doing it quickly. They are being adaptive and nimble," the official said, noting they are using hit-and-run tactics to great advantage. 

Maintainer works on jet.
Aircraft Refueling
Air Force Staff Sgt. Lorina Hochstetler, assigned to the 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, prepares to refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft at 86th Air Base, Romania, March 7, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Ali Stewart
VIRIN: 220307-F-FW957-1085A

The Defense Department has surmised that the Russian intelligence apparatus didn't fully factor in the degree to which Russian troops were going to be resisted, the official said. 

Also, the DOD believes that the Russians haven't properly planned and executed their logistics and sustainment efforts, the official noted. 

Not since World War II have Russian forces executed such a large-scale ground operation using combined arms of air, land and sea, so it’s understandable, in a way, that their planning and execution has faltered. Combined arms integration is difficult to execute in any scenario by any country, the official said. 

Having said that, the official believed that the Russians are "going to work through those challenges, and we're beginning to see them do that." 

Situational Report Update 

Advanced elements of Russian forces are about 15 kilometers from the center of Kyiv, which would put them near the suburbs of Ukraine's capital, the official said. 

A helicopter lands in a field.
Chopper Landing
An Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter lands to refuel in Zamosc, Poland, March 5, 2022.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Claudia Nix
VIRIN: 220305-M-LT196-073A

Russian forces are also on the outskirts of Kharkiv, but there's still a lot of fighting there and it's being well defended. The city of Mariupol is under increasing pressure, but is also being well defended, the official said. 

Also, the city of Mykolayiv is being effectively defended despite heavy fighting there, the official added. 

Since the start of the war, the Russians have launched more than 800 missiles of all varieties and sizes into Ukraine, the official said. 

Regarding the Russian convoy in the north of Ukraine, it has not made any significant progress. Some of their vehicles have moved off the road and into the tree line, presumably for force protection against Ukrainian attacks. 

Three workers watch as the bed of a truck is hoisted in the air.
Vehicle Guidance
Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company “Orphans,” 2nd Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, guide the bed of a M1078 light medium tactical vehicle that’s being removed at the maintenance bay in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, March 8, 2022.
Photo By: Army Spc. Hedil Hernández, Army National Guard
VIRIN: 220308-Z-XV469-1006A

The Russians are flying on average 200 sorties per day — not all into Ukrainian airspace since cruise missiles can be launched from those aircraft to hit targets in Ukraine from a great distance. "There's a general cautiousness on their part," the official said. 

The Ukrainians have about 56 fighter jets available and are flying about five-to-10 sorties per day. The official noted that they don't really need to do more than that since the Russians have surface-to-air missiles that could knock those planes out of the sky. In addition, the Ukrainians have made great use of their drones, which can deliver munitions as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, the official said. 

The United States and 14 allies continue to send defensive weapons systems into Ukraine, including small arms, anti-armor and air defense, the official said.  

The official cautioned against U.S. veterans traveling to Ukraine to assist in the fighting. The best way Americans can help would be to contribute to organizations like the Red Cross, which is doing humanitarian work there, the official said. 

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