Yesterday, a senior official from the Department of Defense said that approximately two thirds of Russian troops have retreated from and around Kyiv, their objective since invading. They are refitting in Belarus from which they are expected to re-deploy.
The department declined to speculate on whether the remaining one third of the initial invading Russian force in Kyiv will continue to fight, remain static and dormant, or eventually rotate to Belarus as well.
Russia’s apparent retreat from Kyiv and retrenchment into Ukraine’s easternmost regions marks the latest sign that the war is at an inflection point — one that U.S. officials believe could portend even uglier fighting to come. https://t.co/KQIYxdgwaP
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 5, 2022
The same Defense Department official said, “What we continue to believe is that they’re going to be refit, resupplied, perhaps maybe even reinforced with additional manpower, and then sent back into Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere.” He added, “Our best assessment … is that they will be applied in the eastern part of the country in the Donbas region.”
This assessment comes just over a week after Russian Colonel-General, Sergei Rudskoi said that his forces in Kyiv would be scaling back attacks there so they could “focus on the main goal, liberation of Dunbas”.
No one appears to be calling this Russian retreat a clear marker of anything to come, least of all a victory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has clearly expressed that “he didn’t … acknowledge Ukrainian sovereignty,” according to the Defense official. He went on to say, “He made it very clear that he was after regime change in Ukraine. A key piece of achieving that regime change was taking the capital city. He has failed to do that. … They’re moving away from Kyiv.”
Ukrainian officials anticipate that Moscow will follow this retreat with a full scale assault on the east.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that the outcome of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine would ultimately dictate the future security of the European continent.
He said, “It is in Ukraine that the fate of central Europe and the Black Sea region is decided, which is why defending the freedom of Ukraine and Ukrainians amounts to protecting the security of Europe as a whole.”