Ukraine war latest: US claims Russia suffering decline in combat power

Russian troop numbers dipped for the first time below 90 per cent of the 150,000 it had amassed on the border of Ukraine before the invasion, a senior US defence official said on Tuesday.

Russian forces are struggling with communication, logistics and fuel, the official said, while some troops have been evacuated after suffering from frost bite because they lacked proper cold weather gear.

The Russian and Ukrainian military are engaged in fierce fighting, particularly near Mariupol, a strategically located port city that Russia is now shelling from the Sea of Azov, according to the official.

However, Ukrainian forces are pushing to retake territory in some places, particularly in the south near Kherson, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

“We have seen indications that the Ukrainians are going a bit more on the offence now,” said John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary.

According to a report dated March 22 from the Institute for the Study of War, Russia’s forces are probably moving to a “phase of protracted bombardment” of Ukrainian cities owing to the failure of their initial campaign to surround and seize Kyiv and other major cities.

The ISW also said in its report the head of Ukraine’s armed forces specified on Tuesday for the first time that Russian forces “are suffering casualties due to a poor medical supply system and lack of medicine”. Additionally, the military leader also claimed some unspecified Russian units “have stockpiles of food and ammunition for no more than three days”, according to ISW.

US assessments could not be independently verified.