Russia launched about 60 missile strikes at Ukraine over the weekend in the latest skirmish since their invasion about four months ago. At least one of the missiles struck an apartment building in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, causing several casualties, officials said.
The Russian missile barrage could have been a reaction to the Group of Seven summit in Germany or the recent arrival of another shipment of M-142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to aid the Ukrainians, a senior Pentagon official told reporters on Monday.
“We’re not quite sure of the Russian objectives for the strike,” the senior Defense Department official said. “It’s not unusual to hear about civilian casualties associated with Russian strikes.”
At least one of the missiles that landed in a residential area was likely intended for a military target nearby.
“Those apartments were adjacent to or near a factory that we know was constructing munitions for the Ukrainians,” the senior defense official said.
The Pentagon has determined that Russia has made some gains in its campaign in the disputed Donbas region but at a very high price.
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“The Russians are losing a large number of people. The Ukrainians are making them pay for a very small piece of ground,” the defense official said. “The Ukrainian fighter has demonstrated an ability to win in a level of adversity that is just surprising in so many cases.”
Russian forces have been so decimated since the invasion began that Moscow will likely have to begin tapping into their reserve troops to continue the campaign, British military intelligence officials said Monday.
“Russia’s Combat Army Reserve is a recent innovation of part-time but volunteer reservists, which deploy as whole units typically earmarked for rear-area security tasks. The Human Mobilization Resource is the sizeable pool of all veterans who have served in the regular military in the last five years,” British defense officials tweeted Monday.
Moscow is likely using reservists and veterans to fill out the ranks of third battalions in their regular army units.
“Despite a continued shortfall in the number of deployable reservists for Ukraine, the Russian leadership likely remains reluctant to order a general mobilization,” British officials said.
The Pentagon is hesitant to estimate how long Moscow and Kyiv can continue the conflict.
“I just could not give you a timeline,” the senior Defense Department official said. “The fact that the Russians are talking about the reserves speaks to the impact that Ukrainians are taking on the Russian army.”