Going all in
Most of Russia's military offensives in Ukraine continue to be stalled amid fierce Ukrainian resistance, but Russia's military continues to fire dozens of missiles and rockets at Ukrainian civilian and military targets every day, a senior U.S. defense official said at a briefing in Brussels on Wednesday.
The U.S. estimates that Russian President Vladimir Putin has "around 75 percent of his total military committed to the fight in Ukraine," the official said, clarifying later that the 75 percent figure mostly refers to "battalion tactical groups, which is the units that he has primarily relied upon."
"At the height of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we were about 29 percent committed," former U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges noted Tuesday at the Center for European Policy Analysis think tank. "And it was difficult to sustain that."
Britain's Ministry of Defense said Tuesday that given Putin's significant "personnel losses" in Ukraine, "Russia is redeploying forces from as far afield as its Eastern Military District, Pacific Fleet, and Armenia. It is also increasingly seeking to exploit irregular sources such as private military companies, Syrian and other mercenaries."
The U.S. official said the Pentagon has seen the Russians "deliberate and discuss the possibility of resupply to include replacement troops," and given the deaths, injuries, and defections they are suffering every day, "it certainly stands to reason that they would want to be exploring options to replenish those losses." However, "we haven't seen any indications that anything is moving right now outside of what they have already in Ukraine," the official said, cautioning that "we still assess that they have the vast amount of their combat power available to them" in Ukraine.
"It's pretty clear that Russian generals are running out of time, ammunition, and manpower," CEPA's Hodges wrote. "There is no suggestion that the Russians have big units lurking in the woods somewhere," and "it's apparent that the notional 900,000 strength of the Russian military is a hollow number. " Russia will call up another 130,000 conscripts on April 1, he added, but while "the Ukrainian diaspora is flocking home to help the fight; Russians are not coming back home — and indeed, many are leaving to avoid Putin's fight."