Are invading Russian forces now stalled and stricken by fuel and food shortages, sustainment challenges and significant morale problems? The Pentagon says that all of those possibilities are indeed quite realistic amid reports from Ukrainian fighters engaging the invading force.
Russian Convoy “Bogged Down”
A senior Pentagon official told reporters that the Russian convoy heading south toward Kyiv is “bogged down” and having problems.
“Our assessment is that it is not exactly moving with great speed, that they continue to be bogged down, coming down from the north, to get to Kyiv,” the official said.
A senior Pentagon official told reporters that, according to DoD’s best assessment, the advancing Russian forces are challenged by the “resistance that they are facing and the fuel and sustainment problems they are having.”
“We are also picking up signs that they're having problems feeding their troops; that they're -- not only are they running out of gas, but they are running out of food. And we also believe that a part of the stall could be -- and I emphasize the word "could" -- could be a result of their own self-determined sort of pause in operations, that they are possibly regrouping, rethinking, reevaluating, that that could be part of it,” the senior Pentagon official told reporters, according to a Pentagon transcript.
They may also be having trouble countering or breaking through a highly motivated, tactically dispersed, yet effective Ukrainian force armed with anti-armor weapons. They may be staging ambushes and carefully staged hit and run attacks on approaching vehicles at key “choke points” such as bridges and intersections where they may be more vulnerable.
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By seeking to ambush Russian forces at intersections, bridges and narrow passageways, Ukrainian fighters may be having success with tactics employed with less effectiveness by the Iraqi Republican Guard in 2003 during the US invasion of Iraq, according to an Infantry Battalion Task Force Commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom, retired Lt. Col. Scott Rutter.
Tenacity of Ukrainian Fighters
In an interview with The National Interest, Rutter explained that the apparent difficulties being experienced by the invading Russian forces may be in large measure due to the tenacity of the Ukrainian fighters and their will to defend their homeland.
“They're defending their homeland, Let there be no doubt from what we're seeing. And what we're understanding is that they are going to fight to the death,” Rutter said.
Also, much like the Senior Defense Official told reporters, Rutter believes the Russian forces may be encountering a substantial morale problem.
“I think the combat multiplier here is the reduction of discipline on the Russian side. And the focus and the pride and the efforts of the Ukrainian people as well as their reserve force that has been pushed forward as well as their active force,” Rutter said.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.