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No Shelling of Odesa or Nearby Observed in Last 24 Hours, DOD Official Says

March 17, 2022 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

There has been little activity in the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the last 24 hours, according to a senior Defense Department official. 

"We have observed [continued Russian] naval activity in the north Black Sea off the coast of Odesa, but no shelling over the course of the last 24 hours that we observed," the official said. "And [we haven't seen] imminent signs of an amphibious assault on Odesa," he noted, adding that in terms of ground movements, the Russians are basically where they have been since yesterday. 

A military jet flies across a blue sky.
Falcon Flight
An Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot practices basic flight maneuvers upon arrival in Croatia to support NATO’s collective defense in southeast Europe, March 16, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Miquel Jordan
VIRIN: 220316-F-EU398-387A

"[The] Ukrainians are putting a lot of effort into defending Kyiv as you would expect them to do. [The] Ukrainians are the reason why [the Russians] haven't been able to move forward. And it's because they're very actively resisting any movement by the Russians," he said. 

Officially, the war is not at a stalemate; rather, the Ukrainians are actively resisting any movement by the Russians, even though the Russians have advantages in terms of their long-range missile fires, and they are continuing to use them. 

Foreign soldiers participate in exercise.
Markmanship Training
Ukrainian soldiers conduct marksmanship training and small unit tactics during Rapid Trident 2019, Sept. 21, 2019, near Yavoriv, Ukraine. RT19 is an annual, multinational exercise, which involves about 3,700 personnel from 14 nations, which supports joint combined interoperability among the partner militaries of Ukraine and the United States, and Partnership for Peace nations and NATO allies.
Photo By: Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson
VIRIN: 190921-Z-NP032-022

"We have anecdotal indications that Russian morale is flagging," he said. "We don't have insight into every unit and every location, but we certainly have picked up anecdotal indications that morale is not high in some units. And some of that is, we believe, a function of poor leadership, lack of information that the troops are getting about their mission and objectives, and I think, disillusionment from being resisted as fiercely as they have been. But again, I want to stress, these are anecdotal accounts. We're confident in what we're picking up, and we would not apply that to the entire force that Russia has put into Ukraine," he added. 

The United States is continuing to work with its allies and partners on the possibility of helping Ukraine with long-range air defense systems and other systems the Ukrainians are trained on, in addition to helping them face artillery bombardment, the official said. "It's us talking to individual nations who might be able to have these capabilities and to provide them," he added. 

U.S. and Ukraine ships engage in exercise.
Sea Breeze
Sea Breeze is a U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise conducted in the Black Sea and is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security and peace within the region, Dec. 5, 2017.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrea Rumple
VIRIN: 171205-N-NO901-1003A

"I don't have an inventory list of the Russian missile stockpile, [but] we still assess that they have a significant amount of their combat power available to them," the official said.  

"We have seen them rely a little bit more on dumb bombs, if you will, non-precision guidance. We think it's possible that they might be either conserving their precision-guided munitions or are beginning to experience shortages. Again, it's not 100% clear," he noted. 

Soldiers load M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for a live fire exercise.
Live Fire Exercise
Soldiers assigned to the 41st Field Artillery Brigade load M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems for a live fire exercise at the 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, March 11, 2022. The deployment of forces here is a prudent measure that underpins NATO's collective war-prevention aims, defensive orientation and commitment to protect all allies.
Photo By: Gertrud Zach
VIRIN: 220311-A-HE359-0404

The official said DOD "absolutely thinks" that while the Russians still have the majority of their combat power available, they're talking about resupply and resourcing and revealed that they are beginning to get concerned about longevity. 

"I want to stress — if we haven't seen them move supplies from elsewhere in Russia to Ukraine — [and] they still have a lot available for them — they are thinking about it here three weeks in, certainly is noteworthy," he said.