Dan Lamothe Profile picture
Mar 1 13 tweets 2 min read
At the Pentagon, a Tuesday morning background briefing about the war in Ukraine with a senior U.S. defense official has concluded. Important updates:
The 40 mile-long column of Russian tanks and combat vehicles that has been spotted in satellite imagery has “stalled” north of Kyiv, the senior U.S. defense official said. Several possible reasons for it, and it could be more than one of them.
There are indications that Russian forces are "regrouping" after their haphazard operation so far hasn't yielded the results they expected. They continue to deal with fuel shortages, and the senior U.S. defense official said food shortages have come up, too.
The senior U.S. defense official said that the column effectively has not moved in a day. On Monday, he said that it was about 30 kilometers north of Kyiv city center.
About 80 percent of the combat power that Russia prestaged at the Ukrainian border is now committed to the war, up from just under 75 percent Monday, and the Russians are shelling Kyiv, the senior U.S. defense official said. We've seen many reports of that from the ground.
The United States has seen signs that Russian soldiers in the invasion force, especially young conscripted ones, did not know they were being sent to combat, the senior U.S. defense official said.
The Pentagon has seen Russia deploying multiple rocket launcher systems in Ukraine that could be used to launch thermobaric rounds, the senior defense official said.

Such weapons are designed to ignite fuel while using oxygen in the air.
Airspace remains contested, the senior U.S. defense official said, despite the massive size advantage the Russian military has. The situation is "dynamic," he adds.
Russia has now launched about 400 missiles at Ukraine since the invasion began, senior U.S. defense official says. That's up from about 380 on Monday.
In the southern portion of Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian forces are fighting in the city of Kherson, and Russia has occupied Berdyansk and taken possession of Melitopol, a city of about 150,000, the senior U.S. defense official said.
Russia remains outside the major southern city of Mariupol, and is now close enough to attack it with artillery and other long-range fires, the senior defense official said.
Finally, a sobering note we've heard from several analysts, too: Russia is still expected to adjust and has combat power to do so, senior U.S. defense official said.
My story today.

Russia’s invasion began with precision missiles, but weapons are changing as siege war begins


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More from @DanLamothe

Mar 3
A Thursday background briefing at the Pentagon about the war in Ukraine has concluded.

Notable updates:
Pentagon acknowledges "heavy bombardment" by Russia of numerous cities. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, etc.

Mariupol is still in Ukrainian government control.

Russians are now "just outside" Kharkiv.
There is a “clear willingness” to hit Ukrainian civilian targets, including government infrastructure in Kyiv and Kharkiv, senior defense official says.

That amid obvious verified of attacks circulating on social media.
Read 14 tweets
Feb 28
Monday morning Pentagon background briefing on the war in Ukraine now concluded. Some noteworthy details on what is Day 5 since Russia's invasion to follow:
On Sunday, a senior U.S. defense official said that Russia appeared to adapting siege tactics on the northern city of Chernihiv. Today that official adds it appears similar tactics are in use in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, something that matches visuals widely available.
The senior U.S. official also says it appear that Russian forces are attempting to encircle Kyiv, raising concerns siege tactics could be used there, too.
Read 14 tweets
Feb 27
Sunday background briefing with senior U.S. defense official winding down.

Up front, official acknowledges reports that Putin has put his nuclear forces on alert and said that it is “not only an unnecessary step for him to take, but an escalatory one.”
Senior U.S. defense official says that Russia continues to face stiff resistance on its advances. Also says Russia is struggling with fuel and logistical issues. Still no indications that Russia has taken control of any major cities, U.S. official says.
Significant: Russia has now adopted siege tactics on the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, senior U.S. defense official says. That significantly elevates the likelihood of civilian casualties there.
Read 11 tweets
Feb 26
A Saturday morning background briefing with a senior U.S. defense official about the war in Ukraine just concluded.

First takeaway: Russian reconnaissance troops are now in and near Kyiv, the capital, even as main Russian advanced is about 30 kilometers north, official said.
The official declined to say whether these forces are Spetsnaz. By virtue of their role, they'd attempt to prep the battlefield for further advancement.

That said: Stiff resistance remains. Russian forces are “increasingly frustrated” by their lack of momentum, official says.
Airspace over Ukraine remains contested, U.S. official says, in contradiction to expectations before the invasion that Russia would quickly seize control of the skies.

Ukrainian jets and air-defense systems are active and continue to “engage and deny," U.S. official says.
Read 12 tweets
Feb 25
Out of a background briefing this morning with a senior U.S. defense official. Notable updates about the war in Ukraine:
A couple things going on here. First, Russia is getting more resistance that it expected, senior defense official says. He cites resistance around Kyiv in particular.
Russia also has not established air superiority over Ukraine, as U.S. officials had predicted was likely before this invasion began. Instead, the air space is contested, with some Ukrainian air defenses (surface-to-air missiles) still available and Ukrainian jets flying sorties.
Read 8 tweets
Feb 24
Just back from background briefing with a senior U.S. defense official. Important details that the Pentagon is seeing about the assault on Ukraine:
More than 100 missiles launched at Ukrainian targets last night. They came from Belarus, Russia and the sea. Airports and other military targets were the primary emphasis last night. But it appears Russia is moving to take control of Kyiv and other cities next, official says.
"We would describe what you are seeing as an initial phase" of a "large-scale invasion," senior U.S. defense official says. Cautions that the U.S. will not have perfect visibility of what is happening. No U.S. aircraft overhead.
Read 13 tweets

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