Russia Begins Retreat from Kyiv in ‘Major Strategy Shift’: U.S. General
According to a senior U.S. commander for operations in the region, Russian troops have begun retreating from positions around Kyiv, as President Vladimir Putin’s war plan continues to face unexpected resistance and poor execution.
During a congressional hearing Tuesday morning, Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of US European Command, was asked about media reports that Moscow was withdrawing troops from the capital and other points in northern Ukraine to focus on other targets.
“I can confirm that the shifting dynamics on the ground domain near Kyiv are exactly what we see from an EUCOM perspective,” Wolters said after being questioned by Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.
U.S. News reports that bombings and rocket fire from Russian aircraft increased Tuesday morning in support of a large-scale repositioning of its infantry forces, apparently to southern Ukraine. The officer requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information.
Unnamed US officials told CNN that Russia planned to cover its retreat with air and artillery bombardments of the capital.
Russia has increased its bombing and artillery fire on civilian targets. Russia’s month-long campaign to seize control of the former Soviet state has devolved from supposed lightning warfare into bogged-down, poorly led and ill-supplied offensive lines, according to Western officials. Putin seems to be using more indiscriminate weapons as Moscow’s precision weapons supply appears to be dwindling.
That includes the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where an eight-year-old separatist war has simmered, and the strategic port city of Mariupol, which is vital to Ukraine’s ability to access the outside world.
Americans believe Russia’s latest moves are motivated by a desire to consolidate a failed ground campaign and increase bargaining leverage with Ukrainian officials in Istanbul. Controlling eastern Ukraine and Mariupol would also help Russia secure a land bridge to the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Western intelligence reported on Monday that Putin had sent Wagner Group mercenaries to eastern Ukraine to help break the stalemate. This could jeopardise Russian operations in Africa and Syria.