Russia's invasion of Ukraine kicked off two weeks ago, although it feels like much longer ago. The Kremlin's advances on the ground appear to have largely stalled out in the face of Ukrainian resistance and major supply chain problems. Its forces have now shifted their focus to a brutal campaign of encircling and bombarding major cities. At the same time, the United States and other countries continue to levy new sanctions on Russia and work to isolate it politically on the international stage while pouring thousands of weapons into the country to support Ukraine's defense.
Before diving into the latest news below, readers can get up to speed on the present state of the conflict in Ukraine in our previous rolling coverage here.
POSTED: 9:25 PM EST—
“For the first time, we don’t expect them to make any gains in the next few days," a NATO official told CNN earlier today, underscoring the degree to which Russia's advances on the ground have slowed. "They are putting in everything they have and are still making very little progress."
The U.S. military now assesses that the Kremlin has committed almost 100 percent of the forces it had arrayed around Ukraine in recent months and that it has lost around five percent of that combat capacity since the invasion began. Russian forces have now launched more than 670 ballistic and cruise missiles against Ukrainian targets, according to the Pentagon and appears to be stepping up those and other kinds of strikes.
Russian forces have still not achieved air superiority, a senior U.S. defense official said today.
Many Ukrainian cities are increasingly subject to Russian siege warfare tactics, including air, missile, and bombardments. This continues to create significant risks and hardships for civilian populations in these areas, as underscored by the U.K. government intelligence assessment below.
The video below, showing evacuations earlier from the city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, rams home what civilians in Ukraine are increasingly facing. This reality is also highlighted by the picture in the Tweet below that showing the tail end of an artillery rocket lodged in a civilian vehicle inside a parking structure in Kharkiv to the east.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has assessed that there are between 10 days and two weeks worth of general supplies available to sustain the remaining populace of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv should it become completely cut off by Russian forces. Russia's military is still trying to make a push on Kyiv from three different directions and continues to send small units into the city itself to skirmish with forces there and "disrupt normal life," according to a senior U.S. defense official.
The Russian military appears to be preparing for amphibious landings along Ukraine's Black Sea coastline. This could include long-expected operations targeting the port city of Odesa.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said tonight that "the world doesn't believe in Russia's future" and "there will most certainly be a future" for his country. This comes after he recently said that he is open, at least to some degree, to acquiescing to some of Russia's more maximalist demands, such as ceding control of the Crimean Peninsula and areas of the country's eastern Donbas region.
The United States and countries in Europe have begun to talk about Ukraine's eventual reconstruction following this conflict, even as military and humanitarian aid continue to flow to it now.
U.S. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who is currently Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and head of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), told lawmakers at a hearing earlier today that, at least so, Russian cyberattacks had been more limited than expected in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. He attributed this to hard work on the part of the Ukrainian government and others "to prevent their actions."
At the same hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Russian cyberattacks remain one of the most realistic avenues for spillover from the conflict in Ukraine to directly impact the United States.
Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, and William Burns, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), highlighted at that hearing how China has been unsettled by Russia's stumbling in its invasion of Ukraine and the international community's reaction to the conflict. They say that what Beijing has observed in this context could have an impact on its own calculus regarding the potential use of force against Taiwan.
New high-resolution satellite imagery has emerged online of an air base in Russia relatively close to the Ukrainian border that shows some interesting aircraft deployed there. The image, taken on March 3, shows that a substantial number of An-2 Colt biplanes, as well as specialized electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft, were there on that date. The presence of the An-2s, in particular, which was first observed back in February, remains curious, as you can read more about here.
Commercial satellite imagery provider Maxar has released new imagery of various locations in Ukraine showing the impacts of the conflict.
The video in the Tweet below shows a Ukrainian service member or a member of the country's volunteer Territorial Defense FOrces armed with a German-made Panzerfaust 3 shoulder-fired anti-armor weapon. This is one a number of shoulder-fired missile and rocket launchers that Ukrainian forces have received or expect to soon, as you can read more about here.
Ukrainian forces have made good use of these launchers, especially anti-tank guided missiles with firing modes that allow them to strike the tops of tanks and other armored vehicles, where the armor is typically thinnest, in their defense of the country. Visual evidence of their impact these weapons are having on Russian operations continues to grow, including the picture below showing the addition of sandbags on top of improvised cage-type armor on a Russian tank.
Imagery continues to emerge on social media showing Ukrainian citizens towing away abandoned Russian armored vehicles.
Russia's economy is buckling more and more under the weight of new international sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. Ratings agency Fitch has warned that a default on the country's sovereign debt could be "imminent."
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