Russians 'resetting' for renewed attack on Kyiv as Putin fails to achieve war objectives

A Russian military convoy stretching 40 miles on the road to Kyiv has placed weapons in firing positions

Ukrainian soldiers pass people fleeing the conflict in the Vyshgorod region close to Kyiv. AP Photo / Efrem Lukatsky

Russian troops are most likely 'resetting' before launching a renewed offensive on Kyiv and other locations, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has said.

In its daily intelligence update on Friday, the MoD said it is “highly unlikely” that President Vladimir Putin’s forces have achieved any of the objectives of his invasion of Ukraine.

A massive convoy has been seen converging on the capital, split up and fanned out into towns and forests near Kyiv. Satellite photos appeared to show artillery pieces raised into firing positions as soldiers prepared for day 15 of the full-scale invasion.

“It remains highly unlikely that Russia has successfully achieved the objectives outlined in its pre-invasion plan,” the MoD said.

“Russian ground forces continue to make limited progress. Logistical issues that have hampered the Russian advance persist, as does strong Ukrainian resistance.

“Russia is likely seeking to reset and re-posture its forces for renewed offensive activity in the coming days. This will probably include operations against the capital Kyiv.”

The convoy heading towards the city appears to stretch for as long as 40 miles, according to satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies.

Armoured units were seen in towns near the Antonov airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into woodlands, Maxar reported, with towed howitzers nearby in position to open fire.

The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to stall as reports of food and fuel shortages circulated.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday accused Mr Putin of a “cynical” attempt to manufacture a pretext for using chemical weapons in Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said he feared the “barbaric” regime in the Kremlin may be ready to use the banned weapons as the invading Russian forces have failed to make the progress expected of them.

Britain and its allies fear Moscow could go further and carry out a chemical attack, potentially under the cover of a “false flag” operation.

“The stuff which your are hearing about chemical weapons is straight out of the Russian playbook,” Mr Johnson told Sky News.

“They start saying that there are chemical weapons that are being stored by their opponents or by the Americans, so that when they themselves deploy chemical weapons – as I fear they may – they have a sort of a maskirovka, a fake story, ready to go.”

Moscow claims it has evidence of "military biological activities of the US on the territory of Ukraine”.

The allegations have been vehemently denied by the Biden administration.

The UN Security Council will meet on Friday at Russia’s request to discuss the claims.

“This is exactly the kind of false flag effort we have warned Russia might initiate to justify a biological or chemical weapons attack,” Olivia Dalton, spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations, said on Thursday.

“We’re not going to let Russia gaslight the world or use the UN Security Council as a venue for promoting their disinformation.”

The southern port city of Mariupol is being pounded by Russian bombs and the 430,000 residents are facing chronic food and water shortages.

More than 1,300 people have died in the 10-day siege of the city, according to deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

Heating and phones services have stalled, and many people have no electricity. At night temperatures usually drop below freezing, while during the daytime it is only slightly warmer.

Grave-diggers have resorted to burying bodies in mass graves.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of mocking the residents of the strategic city.

“They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to mock it, to constantly bomb and shell it,” Mr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation.

Mr Zelenskyy said authorities had managed to evacuate around 100,000 from several cities in the previous two days, but warned the threat of Russian forces using chemical weapons remain “very real”.

The former comedian sarcastically addressed Russian troops and asked where they planned to deploy chemical weapons.

"Where will you strike with chemical weapons?” he asked. “At the maternity hospital in Mariupol? At the church in Kharkiv? Okhmadit children's hospital? Or at our laboratories, which have been around since Soviet times and work on regular technology, not military technology?”

Updated: March 11, 2022, 8:49 AM