Analysts Say Russia Pausing Assaults To Rearm Its Troops
According to foreign analysts, Russia may be momentarily slowing its onslaught in eastern Ukraine as it tries to rearm its forces for what it claims will be a decisive new assault on its neighbor.
Photo Insert: A Russian tank destroyed by Ukraine's army
Despite Ukrainian rocket and artillery attacks on 16 ammo dumps and dozens of missile sites, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday that his forces "haven't even started" to fight.
According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russian forces made no claimed or assessed territorial gains in Ukraine on Wednesday, "for the first time in 133 days of war."
The Washington-based think tank suggested Moscow may be taking an "operational pause," but that this does not imply "the complete cessation of active hostilities," Maria Grazia Murru and Oleksandr Stashevski reported for the Associated Press (AP).
“Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions for more significant offensive operations” and rebuild the necessary combat power, the institute said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry seemed to confirm that assessment, saying in a statement Thursday that Russian soldiers had been given time to rest.
“The units that performed combat missions are taking measures to recover their combat capabilities. The servicemen are given the opportunity to rest, receive letters and parcels from home,” read the statement, quoted by Russian state news agency TASS.
Putin warned Kyiv it should quickly accept Moscow’s terms to end the fighting or brace for the worst.
“Everybody should know that largely speaking, we haven’t even yet started anything in earnest,” he said in a menacing note.
Putin’s boast comes at a time when Ukrainian sappers have blasted railways and destroyed hundreds of Russian tanks, scores of fuel depots and thousands of tons of ammunition in Ukraine, along with refineries in Russia, experts said. These factors could have pushed Moscow to rest its military units and bring in more war materiel.