The US assesses that Russian forces are making “slow and uneven” and “incremental” progress in the Donbas region, in part because of Ukrainian resistance, as well as continued logistics problems, according to a senior US defense official.
“There’s a lot of still back and forth in the Donbas in terms of territory gained and or lost by frankly both sides,” said the official on a background call with reporters.
The official said Russia now has 92 battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, up from 85 last week.
However, the official also said that continued “logistics and sustainment challenges” prevent Russian forces from making more than “several kilometers or so progress on any given day, just because they don’t want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines.”
Russia is making some advances to the east and south of Izium, while still facing pushback from Ukrainian forces, said the official.
In the south, the official said that the US has seen some Russian forces departing the besieged city of Mariupol and heading to the northwest towards Zaporizhzhia, despite the fact that Mariupol still has not fallen to Russia as indicated by continued Russian strikes against the city.
The official said that Russia has now launched more than 1,900 missiles against Ukraine since the beginning of the February invasion.
Russian forces are still facing “morale and cohesion problems,” according to a senior US defense official, particularly as they are using conscripts to reinforce their battalion tactical groups that they are sending back into the Donbas region.
“We have some early indications that while the conscripts start out with high morale because they’ve been feasting on Russian propaganda, it doesn’t take very long before that morale is sapped once they get put into combat and face Ukrainian resistance,” said the official on a background call with reporters.