Pentagon forces say 100% of Putin’s combat troops are on border in Ukraine as invasion stalls and believe Russia is recruiting Syrian troops for city battles: US raises hopes Zelenskyy and his fighters won war could win
- A Pentagon official said Monday that Vladimir Putin has now sent all of his invading forces to Ukraine
- Russia had massed more than 150,000 soldiers on the border with Ukraine in the past few months
- The official also confirmed that Russia had started recruiting foreign fighters – including Syrians
- He said it was “remarkable” that Putin “had to rely on foreign fighters” to supplement a huge invasion force
- And he said it’s not yet possible to say if civilians are being targeted by Russian attacks
Russian President Vladimir Putin has now sent about 100 percent of his invading forces to Ukraine, a senior US defense official said Monday.
Russia has taken no further steps to send battalions from other parts of Russia, the official said, as he instead confirmed Moscow was now trying to recruit foreign fighters for its stalled advance.
“We now assume that Putin has poured almost 100 percent of his fighting power into Ukraine,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
“And by fighting power I mean the fighting power that he has accumulated along the border with Ukraine and in Belarus.”
Before the invasion began, US officials said they believed the Russians had rounded up more than 150,000 people along Ukraine’s borders.
The brave resistance of Ukrainian troops – and an influx of weapons from NATO countries, including tank shells – are credited with halting Russia’s main advance north of the capital Kyiv, where an armored convoy was held up for days.
A still from a handout video provided by the Press Service of the Russian Defense Ministry shows Russian soldiers mounted on a 152mm MSTA-S self-propelled artillery system on the march near Kyiv (Kyiv), Ukraine. drive
Refugees from Irpin are fleeing the area using the last remaining humanitarian corridor which opened at 10am this morning. Russian forces continue their advance to encircle the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv
The main thrust of Russia’s advance towards Kyiv has stalled, but Russia continues to gain in the south
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard as residents wait to cross the destroyed bridge as they flee the frontline town of Irpin
A Ukrainian soldier watches as evacuees cross a destroyed bridge fleeing the city of Irpin
But Russian troops have made greater advances in the south, advancing east and west along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas.
Meanwhile, officials said the US had counted 625 Russian missile launches – including short-range, surface-to-air and cruise missiles.
That has worsened in recent days, the official said, putting civilians at risk, although it was difficult to say if they were deliberately targeted.
“It appears the Russians are increasing their use of long-range fire to supplement or compensate for the lack of ground movement they have had and the lack of air superiority they do not enjoy,” the official added.
With Putin’s failure to seize Kyiv quickly, reports surfaced over the weekend that Moscow was trying to recruit foreign fighters – including Syrian urban fighting experts.
According to a publication from Deir Ezzor, Syria, volunteers have been offered up to $300 to each operate as “guardians” in Ukraine for six months.
Hundreds of civilians fled the town of Irpin, west of Kyiv, today after it came under heavy attack by Russian forces in recent days as Putin’s men try to encircle the capital
Elderly people and families with children are being helped across a fast-flowing river under a destroyed road bridge outside Irpin, a town west of Kyiv that was attacked by Russian forces
A woman in a wheelchair is helped by local residents as she evacuates from Irpin
US officials believe Russia has now deployed 100 percent of its combat forces, which have been massed along the Ukrainian border
“We believe … the reports are correct that the Russians are trying to recruit Syrians in particular to enlist and fight in Ukraine,” the official said
“We find that remarkable [Putin] believes he must rely on foreign fighters to supplement the very significant combat force engagement within Ukraine.’
Meanwhile, it emerged that American officials have started gathering information that could help determine whether Russia committed war crimes.
“We collect evidence of possible war crimes, human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. We support accountability using every available tool, including law enforcement where appropriate,” a spokesman for the National Security Council said.
The Pentagon also ordered another 500 troops to Europe over the weekend, bringing the total number of American forces there to about 100,000, the official said, as the United States seeks to guard against the war spreading to NATO nations .
The two sides held a third round of talks on Monday, during which an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy reported that little progress had been made on the issue of safe corridors.