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Some of the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine are undertrained, ill-equipped and apparently did not know they were being sent into combat, the Pentagon claimed on Tuesday.
A senior US defence official told reporters that “morale was flagging” in some Russian units as they push deeper into Ukraine, where they are facing fierce resistance in some places as their battle capabilities are further diminished by disrupted supply lines from Russia.
“We are also picking up signs that they are not only are they running out of gas, but they are running out of food,” the official said.
Unverified videos posted online purportedly show Russian forces looting food shops and tanks stranded by the side of the road after running out of fuel.
“They did not expect the resistance,” the official said and added that US has seen signs of some Russian units surrendering without a fight.
The official referenced the young age of some of those drafted as another factor hurting morale.
“Not all of them are apparently fully trained or prepared or even aware that they were going to be sent into a combat operation,” the official said.
Assessing the Russian military's recent movements and combat power, the US official said “the main advance on Kiev basically remains where it was yesterday".
Satellite images from commercial imaging company Maxar show high-resolution pictures of large military convoys approaching Kiev, some of which are several kilometres long.
“No perceivable movement from the Russians coming down from the north,” the official said.
The Pentagon said Russia has now sent 80 per cent of its troops staged for the Ukraine operation into the country and that it has fired more than 400 missiles.
“The Ukrainian air missile defence systems remain intact and viable and engaged,” the senior official added.
Asked about Ukrainian reports that Belarusian troops have entered the war, the US official said Washington has seen no such indications.
Russia’s war in Ukraine is expected to take centre stage in US President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
“I think people can expect to hear him position that as the importance of the United States as a leader in the world, of standing up for values, standing up for global norms,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.