Russian forces have made thrusts into Kyiv before falling back to the outskirts, facing tough resistance from Ukrainian troops on day three of the invasion ordered by President Vladimir Putin on February 24.
Here AFP describes the situation, based on statements from both sides as well as assessments by Western defence and intelligence officials.
Russian ground forces have pressed deep into Ukraine from the north, east and south but have encountered a resistance from Ukrainian troops whose intensity has likely surprised Moscow, according to Western sources.
The official said that Ukrainian military was offering “strong resistance” in key cities, expressing fear over the potential “indiscriminate” use of violence by Russia if its timescale for the invasion was not met.
Russia has so far not succeeded in fully taking any Ukrainian city, although its forces have been bearing down on Kyiv as well as Kharkiv, which lies close to the Russian border.
A senior US defence official told reporters Friday that the momentum of the Russian advance, particularly around Kyiv, had slowed over the last 24 hours.
– Claims and counterclaims –
“On losses, we have no figures. We must be wary of the figures that will be announced by both sides because it will be part of the information war in this conflict,” said a French military official, who asked not to be named.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the heroism of 13 border guards on Snake island in the Black Sea who were killed after purportedly telling a Russian military warship to “go fuck yourself” rather than surrendering.
Ukraine meanwhile said that a Russian missile had struck the upper floors of a high-rise Kyiv apartment block, saying this showed that Moscow was directly targeting civilians.
The Ukrainian defence ministry said 2,800 Russian soldiers had been killed, without providing evidence.
Moscow has yet to report on casualties.
Western sources agree that days of fierce fighting looms for control of Kyiv with Zelensky — who has insisted on staying in the capital — in physical danger.
“The fighting for Kyiv is likely to be quite long, destructive and deadly. Given the size of Kyiv and the organisation of the city, the fact that buildings are going to be hit seems almost inevitable,” said the official.
“It will depend on the success that they (Russian forces) have as to whether they could potentially go further west,” said the Western official, adding the the security of Lviv was being closely examined “day-by-day”.
Russians have also sought to take control of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper river north of Crimea, launching cyberattacks on the plant, the US official said.
Originally published as Russia’s war on Ukraine: Day three situation