Russia now announces that it is scaling back its offensive to what it had before the invasion
Russia made an unexpected announcement yesterday, Friday, assuring that the first phase of its military operation in Ukraine is practically completed and that they will now concentrate on “liberating” the Donbas region. “The main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved. The combat capabilities of the Ukrainian forces have been significantly reduced, which allows (…) to concentrate the bulk of efforts on the main goal – the liberation of the Donbas,” said Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Sergey Rudskoi.
Rudskoi also admitted that 1,351 Russian servicemen have been killed and 3,825 wounded in the invasion since the beginning of the offensive on February 24. The new figure is almost three times higher than the one offered by the Russian Defense Ministry on March 2, which amounted to 498 killed in combat. Meanwhile, the number of dead on the Ukrainian side would exceed 14,000, according to Rudskoy. Ukraine, in its turn, estimates the number of dead in the Russian ranks at more than 16,100 soldiers.
In the most important war report offered by the Russian side, this senior defense official assured that the Kremlin troops have blockaded Kiev and Chernygiv, in the north of Ukraine; Kharkov in the east, Sumi in the northeast and Mikolayev in the south. It has also reported that the Kherson region in the south and most of the Zaporiyia region in the southeast are under its control.
However, Ukrainian authorities have denied that Russia has managed to blockade Kiev and Chernobyl. Moreover, they maintain that their Army has launched a counteroffensive in the capital region and have stressed that the main fighting with Russian forces is centered on the localities of Berishevka, Hostomel and Irpin. “We are holding the lines and launching counter-offensives in the Kiev region,” said the advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, Vadim Denisenko. Thus, he has stressed that Ukrainian troops have killed more than 300 Russian servicemen and destroyed 12 tanks, 10 armored vehicles and several aircraft over the past day, UNIAN news agency has reported.
In this line, Aleksei Arestovich, one of Volodymir Zelenski’s advisors, stressed that of the 12,000 Russian soldiers present in the vicinity of Kiev, 3,000 had surrendered and 4,000 had been isolated. “The offensive is almost at a standstill and has problems with the supply of materiel, fuel, ammunition and other material support,” Arestovich has asserted in a Facebook post. The cities of Izium, Marinka and Mariupol are the “only” scenarios where Russia “focuses its efforts,” he added.
The UK Ministry of Defense has agreed with Kiev’s analysis and assured earlier Friday that Ukrainian troops have managed to regain territory 35 kilometers east of the capital as part of several “counterattacks.” “Russian forces are falling through supply lines that are too extensive,” he said in a statement. London stressed that “it is likely” that Russian forces “will continue to try to push their troops” towards the Hostomel airfield, northwest of Kiev, according to the German news agency DPA. Finally, he said that “logistical problems and Ukrainian resistance” are slowing down Russia’s attempts to surround the town of Mikolayev.