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Russian forces seem to shift to siege warfare in Ukraine — US official

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia is seen inside a tank of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LNR) on a road in the Luhansk region, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

A serviceman of pro-Russian militia is seen inside a tank of armed forces of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk Folks’s Republic (LNR) on a highway within the Luhansk area, Ukraine February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

WASHINGTON — Russia, pissed off by early battlefield setbacks in Ukraine, might be shifting its technique to siege warfare simply as President Vladimir Putin raises the danger of a catastrophic miscalculation by placing nuclear forces on heightened alert, a senior U.S. protection official stated on Sunday.

Putin gave the order to his nuclear forces as Washington assesses that Russian troops have made restricted progress of their four-day-old invasion attributable to stiff Ukrainian resistance and planning failures which have left some models with out gasoline or different provides, U.S. officers stated.

As missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities, lots of of 1000’s of civilians, primarily ladies and youngsters, have been fleeing the Russian assault into neighboring international locations.

The United States assesses that Russia has fired greater than 350 missiles at Ukrainian targets to this point, some hitting civilian infrastructure, the senior U.S. protection official stated, talking on situation of anonymity. Nonetheless, it had to this point primarily centered on navy targets.

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Citing a Russian offensive on the Ukrainian metropolis of Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, the official cited early indications that Russia could be adopting siege ways.

“It seems that they’re adopting a siege mentality, which any scholar of navy ways and technique will inform you, if you undertake siege ways, it will increase the probability of collateral harm,” the official stated.

Up to now, the Russian offensive can’t declare any main victories. Russian has not taken any Ukrainian metropolis, doesn’t management Ukraine’s airspace, and its troops remained roughly 30 km (19 miles) from Kyiv’s metropolis heart for a second day, the official stated.

Siege ways usually contain encircling enemy positions, slicing off provide and escape routes, then attacking with a mixed power of armor, floor troops and engineers.

The senior U.S. protection official stated it remained to be seen what Russian forces would do subsequent, however the early indicators have been worrying.

“The indications are sufficient when it comes to how they’re positioning their forces across the metropolis (of Chernihiv), how they’re starting this barrage utilizing rockets, that offers us concern,” the official stated.

“To ensure that a siege … to achieve success, you mainly, by design, are going to be focusing on civilian infrastructure and inflicting civilian hurt.”

Photos on social media confirmed some Russian navy automobiles in Ukraine, together with battle tanks, that had apparently been deserted after operating out of gasoline, elevating questions on logistical failures.

“They merely don’t have a whole lot of expertise transferring on one other nation state at this stage of complexity and measurement,” the official stated.

The official stated it was unclear whether or not it was a failure in planning or execution, however added that Russian forces have been more likely to adapt and overcome the challenges.

Russia has nonetheless not moved into Ukraine a couple of third of the troops that Putin had arrayed round its borders, the official stated. However it has quickly elevated the variety of forces Moscow has despatched into Ukraine in latest days.

Nuclear threat

The Pentagon discovered of the heightened Russian alert for its nuclear forces from Putin’s televised announcement, the senior U.S. protection official stated, as a substitute of from American intelligence sources.

Simply after Putin spoke, Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin, Common Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Employees, and the highest U.S. commander for Europe, Common Tod Wolters, held a pre-scheduled assembly at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) at which they mentioned the Russian president’s determination.

Though Washington was nonetheless gathering data, Putin’s transfer was troubling, the official stated.

“It’s clearly, basically, placing in play forces that, if there’s a miscalculation, may make issues a lot, far more harmful,” the official stated.

Requested whether or not america would proceed to supply navy help to Ukraine following Putin’s announcement, the official stated: “That help goes to go ahead.”

Mick Mulroy, a former senior Pentagon official and retired CIA paramilitary officer, stated he believed Putin’s determination to raise the alert of his nuclear forces was a response to battlefield losses.

“Russia putting its nuclear forces on alert is extremely reckless and a transparent indication that Putin realizes his navy just isn’t performing as anticipated in Ukraine,” Murloy stated.

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