By LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON (AP) — For days, an enormous Russian navy convoy has sat, largely stalled about 15 miles (25 kilometers) exterior Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, which is believed to be the central goal of Moscow’s conflict.
Eight days into the conflict, the expanse of Russian provide vehicles, troops and weapons has been plagued with gas and meals shortages and logistical challenges, together with climate and dust. Ukrainian troops have managed to assault and incapacitate some autos on the entrance, making a site visitors jam, however the Russians have largely shielded the convoy from assault by air, in accordance with Western officers and analysts.
The convoy’s lack of measurable progress has triggered questions concerning the short- and long-term implications and what it says about Russia’s conflict planning. However will it have an effect on the conflict’s end result?
Mason Clark, a Russia analyst on the Institute for the Examine of Warfare, says the convoy saga could also be emblematic of shortcomings within the Russian military, which is comparatively inexperienced within the execution of large-scale operations that mix air, floor and naval forces. However it’s unlikely to forestall Russia from prevailing in opposition to the outgunned and outnumbered Ukrainian defenders.
“Finally the Russians will be capable of fairly merely put on down Ukrainian forces,” and take Kyiv, Clark mentioned.
A take a look at what’s recognized concerning the convoy:
WHERE IS IT AND WHAT HAS HAPPENED?
The convoy, which stretches for as a lot as 65 kilometers (40 miles) from close to Prybisk within the north to the southern finish close to the Antonov airport, was transferring steadily south on the onset of the conflict. However this week, progress appeared to all however cease.
Reviews instantly centered on gas and meals shortages. And, a senior U.S. protection official mentioned Ukrainian troops have been concentrating on the convoy with floor hearth, together with shoulder-fired Javelin anti-tank missiles offered by Western nations. Essentially the most vital affect of these assaults is that they struck autos on the entrance of the convoy, primarily making a roadblock.
As well as, the muddy floor has made it tough for the Russians to go off-road to make extra progress alongside different routes. Pictures and movies present autos caught within the mud.
John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, mentioned U.S. officers assess that the convoy, in addition to the broader Russian thrust towards Kyiv from the north, is essentially stalled. He mentioned the Russians look like regrouping and reassessing the explanations for his or her gradual progress, “and learn how to make up for misplaced time.” He mentioned they probably didn’t anticipate such issues or the extent of the Ukrainian resistance.
A SITTING DUCK?
Essentially the most frequent query has been why doesn’t the Ukraine navy decimate it, because it sits on the highways.
Such a protracted string of navy autos in comparatively open terrain would usually be susceptible to air assault. However any Ukrainian assaults on the convoy could also be restricted as a result of officers imagine it incorporates air protection programs and could also be shielded by screening forces to keep at bay floor attackers.
Whereas the Ukrainian navy has hit autos within the entrance and in different sporadic places, it’s probably too dangerous to place manned plane within the space to take it out with bigger weapons, which additionally might be met with defensive strikes. And Ukraine’s navy has been centered on defending the most important cities which might be underneath siege and in peril of being overtaken.
DOES THIS SIGNAL SERIOUS PROBLEMS FOR RUSSIA’S OFFENSIVE?
U.S. officers warning in opposition to any sweeping conclusions that the convoy downside alerts a debilitating setback for the Russians. Whereas it clearly has stalled the Russian assault on Kyiv for now, officers imagine Russia has a lot navy fight energy in Ukraine that it’s going to alter, compensate and overcome such setbacks.
Observers say Russia has clearly been annoyed by persistent logistical and provide issues, with troops operating out of meals and autos operating out of gas.
Clark mentioned some portion of the fuel-truck section of the convoy ran low on gas, paradoxically, “which tells you the state of Russian logistics on this line of advance.”
It’s also potential, officers say, that a part of the rationale for the stalled progress is that Russian commanders are intentionally pausing to reassess and reset, permitting time to get extra provides on the prepared earlier than starting an extra advance on Kyiv.
Observers additionally be aware that somewhere else — largely within the south — Russian troops are having extra success. They introduced the seize of the southern metropolis of Kherson, an important Black Sea port of 280,000, and native Ukrainian officers confirmed the takeover of the federal government headquarters there. They usually have been gaining floor of their effort to maneuver into Mariupol. a strategic port on the Azov Sea.
Nonetheless, the extent — and days-long size — of the convoy’s issues do elevate bigger points about whether or not the Russians adequately ready for the assault, regardless of positioning troops round Ukraine for months earlier than really transferring in. A essential — and lots of would say No. 1 — tenet for any floor marketing campaign is to make sure that troops have the provides, weapons and fundamentals resembling meals, water and gas, they should transfer ahead to their goal.
On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who informed him that navy operations in Ukraine are “going in accordance with plan,” an official within the French president’s workplace mentioned.
However, Russia’s incapability to maintain its troops equipped has raised eyebrows within the Pentagon, the place officers be aware that it has been years since Moscow’s navy has been concerned in such a floor conflict. They usually say it’s exhausting to inform if this was a failure to correctly plan or a collapse within the Russian navy’s execution of the plan.
Observe the AP’s protection of the Ukraine disaster at