Ukrainians Nab Small Victory, Push Russia Away From Parts of Kyiv: Pentagon

A senior official at the Pentagon confirmed that Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian forces away from Kyiv.

The Ukrainians have managed to push the Russians about 34 miles north and northeast of the capital, when the day before they were only about 12 to 18 miles away, the official confirmed to Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb.

The development represents a small victory for the Ukrainians as the Russian invasion nears the end of its first month. The Ukrainians have been fighting to keep their capital out of Russian hands, and a political expert previously told Newsweek that preventing Kyiv's capture "would be presented as something of a victory, because the general consensus before the war was that the Russian campaign would be quick."

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has reported success at keeping Russian forces out of areas around the city such as the northwestern suburb of Irpin and the town of Makariv to the west, according to the New York Post.

In a video posted to Twitter, NBC journalist Richard Engel showed a map of areas of Kyiv that Ukrainians have taken back from Russian forces in the past 48 hours. In the video, Engel said officials in Kyiv told him the recaptured areas reflect "the biggest counter-offensive they've seen since the start of the war," and they're "finding it very encouraging."

According to a Wednesday press release from the Department of Defense, Russian forces in Ukraine are suffering from low morale, with Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby saying there are "indications that the Russians did not properly plan for logistics and sustainment," and that they "continue to have fuel issues across their force" as well as issues with food supply.

"Here it is day 27, and they haven't taken Kyiv. They haven't taken Kharkiv, and they haven't been able to isolate the Donbass area," Kirby said. "The Ukrainians are fighting back very creatively and very bravely."

The senior defense official said Russia still has the majority of its surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles but is running low on its air-launched cruise missiles, with only half of what it started with remaining, according to Babb. These missiles allow bombers to "launch their payload from outside the range of anti-aircraft weapons," according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Ukrainian forces retook Makariv, which is about 30 miles west of Kyiv, on Tuesday, with Ukraine's defense ministry saying the flag of Ukraine was raised over the city as a sign the "enemy was driven back."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has floated the prospect of holding peace talks with Russia in Jerusalem, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is trying to "find a way to negotiate with Russia."

So far, Putin has not publicly responded to the peace talk proposal, though he told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call that Kyiv is attempting to stall peace talks with Moscow, Reuters reported. In an interview with CNN, Zelensky said if the attempts to negotiate with Putin fail, "that would mean that this is a third World War."

Follow Newsweek's live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Update 03/23/22 5:05 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information and background.

Ukrainians Push Russians Away from Kyiv
A Pentagon official said Ukrainians have managed to push Russian forces away from Kyiv. Above, the site of a rocket explosion where a shopping mall used to be on March 23 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images