Speed Reads

enemy at the gates

Full-scale assault on Kyiv could be imminent, Ukrainian military says

Ukrainian military officials expressed concerns Saturday that Russia could be preparing to encircle Kyiv and launch a full-scale attack on the city, BBC reports.

According to BBC Kyiv correspondent James Waterhouse, "[t]he concern from army chiefs here is that [Russian forces] are preparing to mount a much fuller-scale attack on the city — and will try to encircle it as well, like we are seeing in other locations across Ukraine," though he added that it is "not clear whether Russian forces yet have the capacity to do that."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr predicted Saturday that Russian forces "will take Kyiv" if they launch a full-scale attack, but he said that if they want to seize Kyiv, the Russians will have to destroy it.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner suggested that Russian forces might be preparing to do just that. "Perhaps the best indication of how Russia is going to fight the final battles for the city is if you look at how they fought in Grozny, in Chechnya, and in Aleppo, in Syria — street-to-street fighting, but absolutely decimating the cities in the process," he wrote.

So far, Russian forces have only probed the capital's defenses. Satellite photos taken late Thursday morning showed the 40-mile Russian convoy of vehicles, tanks, and artillery outside of Kyiv had split up and been redeployed, suggesting that a full-scale assault could be imminent.

The convoy had been stalled for several days. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speculated that the delay was caused by logistical issues and "resistance from the Ukrainians," while others blamed cheap Chinese tires.

The Pentagon said Thursday that the column has moved recently, with some vehicles now only nine miles from Kyiv's center.