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A senior Pentagon official told reporters on Friday afternoon that Russian forces have lost “momentum” in their invasion of Ukraine, although Russia has not yet deployed all available military forces.
“The Russians have lost a little bit of their momentum. No population centers have been taken. Russia has yet to achieve air superiority,” the official said. “They are not moving on Kyiv as fast as they anticipated it going.”
The official noted that “Ukrainian command and control is intact.”
Pentagon officials said Russia has only deployed about 30 percent of the forces currently stationed on Ukraine’s borders, estimated in total between 150,000 and 190,000 troops.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he spoke with U.S. President Biden on Friday. The White House confirmed that the call lasted for 40 minutes.
“Strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed with POTUS,” Zelensky said in a Twitter post. “Grateful to [the U.S.] for the strong support to [Ukraine]!”
Strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed with @POTUS. Grateful to 🇺🇸 for the strong support to 🇺🇦!
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 25, 2022
For the first time ever, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization activated the NATO Response Force in response to the invasion. The Response Force is a multinational contingent consisting of 40,000 soldiers designed to be deployed speedily, although NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would not deploy the entire force.
“These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect,” Stoltenberg said after a virtual NATO summit.
Russian troops advanced into the outskirts of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Friday, with reports of street clashes between Russian and Ukrainian forces. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry urged Kyiv residents to make Molotov cocktails in preparation for the arrival of Russian troops, and instructions for making the explosives were broadcast on television and radio.