Russia has deployed nearly all staged forces in Ukraine, Pentagon says

US sending additional 500 troops to Nato countries in Europe and deploying refuelling aircraft in Greece

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Russia has deployed almost all of its combat power that had been staged on the border with Ukraine, the US Department of Defence said on Monday, as the war approaches its third week.

A senior US defence official told reporters that "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin has committed nearly 100 per cent of his combat power in Ukraine".

The US has been tracking the deployment of Russian troops to the border since December and estimated a force of more than 150,000 had been stationed to the east of Ukraine and about 30,000 had been sent to Belarus.

But despite a high number of casualties reported on the Russian side, the US is not seeing indications Mr Putin will send in additional troops.

“We have not seen new indications that they [Russians] are preparing to move additional battalion tactical groups from elsewhere the country to shore up what they put in the Ukraine,” the official said.

The Pentagon estimates Russia has launched more than 625 missiles of different ranges inside Ukraine, including surface-to-air and cruise missiles.

The official noted an increase in the bombardment of civilian targets, including infrastructure and residential areas in the country.

He said this is “all the more evidence of the reckless nature” of Russia's aggression, but did not confirm whether the strikes were believed to be deliberate or “simply the result of imprecision".

Ukraine's president says he is 'not hiding' and will remain in Kyiv

Ukraine's president says he is 'not hiding' and will remain in Kyiv

Despite the heavier bombardment, the movement of Russian forces appears to have stalled outside the Ukrainian capital.

“There is fighting in Kyiv, they continue to bombard it. But we still believe that the main advance is still stalled outside the city,” the official said.

He pointed to stiff resistance by the Ukrainians, reiterating that the country's airspace remains contested.

Asked about a Wall Street Journal report claiming Russia is recruiting fighters from Syria to help in Ukraine, the US defence official said it’s “accurate”.

“We find that noteworthy that [Mr Putin] believes he needs to rely on foreign fighters to supplement what is a very significant commitment of combat power inside Ukraine as it is.”

The US official said US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin has authorised sending 500 additional troops to Europe to support Nato operations.

The US is also dispatching a KC-135 refuelling aircraft to Greece and air operations support teams to Poland and Romania.

Updated: March 08, 2022, 7:09 AM