Russian forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine — where the bulk of the fighting is taking place — are suffering from poor command and control, low morale, and less than ideal logistics, a senior Defense Department official said today.
"We continue to see minimal, at best, progress by the Russians in the Donbas," the official said. "They are not making the progress that they had scheduled to make and that progress is uneven and incremental."
The Russians have had some minor gains east of the Ukrainian cities of Izyum and Popasna, the official said, adding that that progress has been anemic.
"What we saw there in Popasna is not unlike what we've seen in other hamlets in the Donbas. [The Russians] will move in and then declare victory and then withdraw their troops only to let the Ukrainians take it back. So, there was a lot of back and forth over the last couple of days," the official said.
Also, the Pentagon has observed that Russian forces seem to have a risk and casualty aversion in both the air war and the ground war, the official said.
Ukrainian forces continue to hold Kharkiv against nearby Russian forces. The city continues to endure Russian air strikes, the official said.
"But the Ukrainians have been doing an able job over the last 24 to 48 hours of pushing the Russians further away. And they have managed to push the Russians out about 40 kilometers to the east of Kharkiv," the official said.
That's a good example of the stiff and formidable resistance Ukrainian forces are displaying, the official said.
Mariupol continues to get hit with standoff Russian air attacks. "We continue to see them using dumb bombs in Mariupol," the official said, referring to ordnance that’s not precision-guided.
Regarding security assistance to Ukraine, more than 70 of 90 M-777 howitzers the U.S. planned to send are now in Ukrainian hands, along with over 140,000 155 mm rounds that these cannons use, which is about half of the projectiles planned for delivery, the official said.
Training on those weapons continues outside of Ukraine, the official added.
From the start of the invasion 68 days ago, the Russians have launched 2,125 missiles into Ukraine, the official mentioned.