Trust but Verify
Ukraine's Defense Ministry said early Friday that since Russian invaded the country Thursday morning, Ukrainian forces have inflicted about 800 casualties on Russian forces (perhaps including wounded soldiers), destroyed more than 30 Russian tanks, seven Russian aircraft, and six helicopters, CNN reports, noting that it is "not able to independently verify Ukraine's figures."
The ministry claimed later Friday morning that Ukrainian air defenses had stopped "two deadly presents from our 'brothers'" from hitting Kyiv, and said Ukrainian forces had destroyed a bridge over the Teteriv river to keep approaching Russian armored units from reaching the embattled capital. Ukraine's Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper confirmed the bridge's destruction.
On Thursday, Ukraine's top army commander and ambassador to the U.S. both said a Russian platoon from the 74th Motorized Brigade surrendered to Ukrainian forces, saying they never believed they would be asked to kill Ukrainians.
Moscow and Kyiv are fighting a propaganda war as well as a military one, so take all official prognoses of the war with a grain of salt. At the same time, while Ukraine is significantly outmatched militarily by its larger, nuclear-armed neighbor, military analysts say the first day of Russia's invasion did not go as well as the Kremlin had planned.
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a former U.S. Army commander in Europe, explained on Twitter that Ukraine has advantages Russia does not, like a supportive population and clear believe in their mission. "The Russians currently have an advantage in resources," he said, but their "training sucks," their logistics and intelligence are "clumsy," their soldiers are "mostly 1-year conscripts, not professionals," and "their officers — for the most part — are terrible."
Ukraine's armed forces was similarly "poorly led, trained, and disciplined" when he first served with them in 2004, Hertling added, but "they have improved, significantly," since then. "There are historical examples where a force with superior will can defeat a force with superior resources," he said, and Ukraine will at least put up a long, tough fight.