The Russians are several days after their goal in Ukraine, the Pentagon estimates

The Pentagon estimates that Russian forces are several days behind where they wanted to be at this point in the east Ukraineaccording to a senior defense attorney.

The Russians expected to be further ahead in their goal of capturing Ukrainian troops in the east and believed this would be achieved now, according to Pentagon estimates. They are “nowhere near” their goal of totally encircling Ukrainian forces, the official said.

Russian forces have made slow, uneven and gradual progress in eastern and southern Ukraine, according to the official, in part because they are on guard against running out of supply lines, as they did in northern Ukraine at the beginning of the invasion, and also because of the effectiveness of Ukrainian resistance.

“They are not moving very fast,” the official said. “A few miles a day is about the most they can handle.”

The Russians have now committed 92 battalion tactical groups, generally consisting of 800 to 1,000 soldiers, to the battle in Ukraine. The official warned that although the Russians have a numerical advantage over the Ukrainians, the fighting in the Donbas could be a long battle, as both sides know the terrain and both sides use long-range artillery in the battle.

To the east, the Russians focus on moving out of Izyum along three main axes – southwest toward Dobropillya, slightly southeast toward Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, and further southeast toward Lyman. The Russians are also trying to push against Lyman from an eastern city they control, Kremmina.

About a dozen Russian battalion tactical groups have been in and around Mariupol, but some of them have this week begun to move north towards the Zaporizhzhia oblast. The Russians continue to knock Mariupol off the air, indicating that they do not control the city yet.

The Russians have conducted limited offensives in the east, while carrying out what the Pentagon calls “shaping operations” to prepare for a major offensive.

Russia originally invaded Ukraine on a number of axes and has now focused on the smaller geographical area of ​​the Donbas, where Ukrainian soldiers have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014. With the shift to the east, the US and NATO allies have begun giving Ukraine heavier weapons such as artillery prior to an expected prolonged battle.

So far, more than 60% of the 90 American howitzers have fallen into Ukrainian hands, according to the Pentagon. Once weapons enter Ukraine, the United States will not track them down, so it is unclear whether the howitzer artillery pieces have reached the front lines of the Donbas region yet.

The Haubits are new to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and require some training. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby announced Friday that some Ukrainians are receiving training in howitzers and other systems at U.S. military installations in Germany.

One hundred and sixty members of the Florida National Guard had trained Ukrainian soldiers in Ukraine before traveling in early February prior to the invasion, and now they perform most of the training on the systems, according to Kirby. All training takes place outside Ukraine.

There were emotional moments between the guard soldiers and some of the Ukrainian soldiers during their recent reunification because of the ties formed before the invasion, Kirby said.

The artillery pieces and other equipment announced in the latest aid packages are geared to what the Ukrainians have requested, in anticipation of an intense battle in the east.

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