Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine appears to be running out of steam as its forces struggle to take more territory in the Donbass amid fierce resistance, Western military officials have said.
After initially failing to take the capital, kyiv, in the first weeks of the war, Russian forces refocused their efforts on eastern and southern Ukraine.
However, their offensives have been met with substantial resistance, with some Western intelligence saying Russia may have lost up to a third of its combat strength since it began its unprovoked invasion on February 24.
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“The Brutal Invasion [by] Russia is losing momentum,” NATO Assistant Secretary General Mircea Geoana said on May 15. “We know that with the bravery of the Ukrainian people and army, and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.
Geoana made the comments in Berlin, where senior NATO diplomats met to discuss further support for Ukraine and steps taken by Finland, Sweden and others to join the Western alliance. in the face of threats from Russia.
Geoana, who chaired the meeting, said Ukraine supporters were “united, we are strong, we will continue to help Ukraine win this war.”
Members of the Alliance have already given the country billions of dollars in lethal and non-lethal military aid to help repel the biggest invasion in Europe since the end of World War II.
According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, “more weapons and other aid” were “on their way to Ukraine”.
The United States and other NATO members have supplied Ukraine with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as heavy artillery.
Kuleba made the comment after meeting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken provided details regarding the latest tranche of US security assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses.
Kuleba was due to brief NATO foreign ministers on the situation on the ground in Ukraine and how the alliance can further assist the country as it battles invading Russian forces for a 12th week.
US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, in Stockholm after visiting the Ukrainian capital on May 14, told reporters on a conference call that he expected the Senate to approve just under 40 billion dollars in additional aid for Ukraine in a vote on May 18.
US President Joe Biden had requested $33 billion in aid from Ukraine on April 28, including more than $20 billion in military assistance. But House lawmakers increased that amount to about $40 billion, adding more military and humanitarian aid.
British military intelligence said in its regular update that Russian forces’ offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region “has lost momentum and is seriously behind schedule”.
Russia has probably suffered losses of a third of the ground combat force it committed in February, according to the British Ministry of Defence. tweeted May 15.
Many of these casualties occurred in the first weeks of the war as Russia sought to capture kyiv and impose a puppet regime loyal to Moscow. Since then, Russia has focused on Donbass, a region comprising Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The UK Ministry of Defense said that despite initial small-scale advances, Russia has failed to make substantial territorial gains in Donbass over the past month while maintaining consistently high levels of attrition.
Russian forces are increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, persistently low morale and reduced combat effectiveness, the ministry said.
“Many of these capabilities cannot be replaced or replenished quickly and will likely continue to hamper Russian operations in Ukraine,” the bulletin added.
The ministry predicts that under current conditions, Russia is unlikely to significantly accelerate its pace of progress over the next 30 days.
The assessments of Russia’s war performance came as Russian troops retreated from the vicinity of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, after shelling it for weeks.
The largely Russian-speaking city with a pre-war population of 1.4 million was a key military objective early in the war when Russia hoped to capture and hold major Ukrainian cities.
The Ukrainian military says Moscow is now focusing on protecting supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and air strikes in eastern Ukraine in a bid to wear down Ukrainian forces and to destroy the fortifications.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his May 15 evening speech that “the situation in Donbass remains very difficult” and that Russian troops “are still trying to emerge at least somewhat victorious.”
Russian forces continued their attacks on May 15, shelling military infrastructure in the Lviv region of western Ukraine. No deaths or casualties were reported from the rocket attack, Lviv Governor Maksym Kozytskiy said on Telegram.
The governor said the extent of the destruction is under investigation. A site near Yavoriv – presumably around the military training area there – was “completely destroyed”, according to the governor.
Earlier, a Ukrainian regional air command said several missiles were fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of May 15.
It was the first Russian airstrike in about a week in the region near the Polish border.