Russia Suffering Shortages, Struggling to Sustain Troops: Pentagon

Three weeks into Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces appear to be suffering from shortages, and commanders are struggling to sustain their troops in combat, a Pentagon official said Thursday.

Russian advances largely remain stalled, making minimal progress in terms of ground movement as Ukrainian forces continue to put up determined resistance, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters in an update, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Putin's forces are "basically frozen around the country on multiple lines of axes, struggling to fuel themselves and to feed their troops and to supply them with arms and ammunition," the person said.

The senior official with the U.S. Department of Defense said that Russia appears to now be relying more on so-called "dumb" bombs than on precision-guided munitions in its full-scale offensive against Ukraine—something that could indicate Russia could be suffering shortages and sustainment issues.

Russians 'Clearly Weren't Ready'

"We have seen them rely more, a little bit more than we saw in the early going, on dumb bombs. We think that it's possible that they might be either conserving their precision-guided munitions or beginning to experience shortages."

"They clearly weren't ready for the pushback that they have been getting from the Ukrainians," the Pentagon official added.

"Dumb" bombs aren't guided and so they have a greater chance of missing their targets. The Pentagon official told reporters that the department has seen a recent increase of strikes on civilian infrastructure and civilian targets.

Russia is also struggling to sustain troops in the field, the official noted, pointing to stalled efforts outside Kyiv, where a convoy of Russian forces stretching for miles has remained for days.

"We talked back in week one about how they hadn't planned properly for logistics and sustainment, how they were struggling with fueling and even feeding their troops," the official said. "We've seen them try to overcome some of those ... issues, but they're still struggling to sustain their troops in the field."

"They are still struggling with that," the official added. "Part of that we believe is because they didn't properly plan for—to execute good logistics. But also because they ran into a stiffer resistance from the Ukrainians than they expected."

The official said it's "quite extraordinary" that three weeks in, Russian forces are still suffering the same logistical and sustainment issues, and that they are considering additional ways to overcome those shortages from outside Ukraine.

The U.S. has also seen "anecdotal indications" that Russian troop morale is lagging due to "poor leadership, lack of information that the troops are getting about their mission and objectives" and disillusionment at "being resisted as fiercely as they have been."

Russian authorities didn't immediately comment.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday laid out his demands for potential peace talks with Russia, saying that his priorities include the end of the war, security guarantees, sovereignty and the restoration of territorial integrity.

"Real guarantees for our country, real protection for our country," he said.

Putin has asked for assurance that Ukraine won't seek NATO membership.

Ukraine-Russia conflict
Ukrainian service members look for and collect unexploded shells after a fight with a Russian raiding group in Kyiv on the morning of February 26, 2022, according to Ukrainian service personnel at the scene. Russian forces appear to be suffering from shortages, and commanders are struggling to sustain their troops in combat, a Pentagon official said Thursday. SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images