Final Russian push into Kiev predicted by weekend. US ups Europe-based troops to 110,000

Russian forces are encircling Kyiv from the east, northwest and west, but on March 9 – more than two weeks into their Ukraine invasion – had still delayed their assault on the capital. Western intelligence says they are waiting for more supplies of troops and ammo. Their losses are estimated at some 3,000 troops at the hands of Ukrainian resistance fighters.

  1. The western axis to Kyiv has passed to the control of forces belonging to Chechen leader Ramazan Kadyrov, Russia’s Rosgvardia internal security formations, and the Liga (former Wagner) Private Military. Moscow deployed these mercenaries in Syria and Libya. Their appearance at this point may indicate that the Russians are short of sufficient conventional combat power to finally unleash the assault on the city.
  2. To the east, Ukrainian fighters have slowed the Russian column rolling out from Sumy towards the capital. However, the invaders are tightening their siege on Khrakiv, while diverting units to extend and secure that column.
  3. Two Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) of the 36th Combined Arms Army (CAA) have advanced on Byshiv, which is the furthest point forward of the Russian drive to encircle Kyiv on the western bank and roughly 50 kim southwest of the city center.
  4. A number of BTGs from elements of the Russian army’s 35th CAA and 36th motorized rifle brigade of the 29th CAA began offensive operations against Ivankiv, which is roughly 70 km northwest of Kyiv’s center.
  5. Units of the elite 45th Guards Spetsnaz Brigade and the 98th Airborne Division are attacking Rakivka, 30km northwest of central Kyiv.
  6. Russian troops are likely attempting to bypass Mykolayiv and cross the Southern Bug upriver of that city to permit an advance on Odesa supported by an amphibious landing from the Black Sea.
  7. More units are heading out of Crimea with Zaporizhya as their goal.

The US is sending two Patriot antimissile batteries stationed in Europe to Poland. They are to protect American, Polish and other allied troops in the country, from deliberate or inadvertent spillover of the war from neighboring Ukraine, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. Poland has been a staging post for Western military aid to Ukraine, but also host to the largest surge of Ukrainian refugees in flight from Moscow’s invasion – an estimated two million to date. The number of US troops posted to Europe is now around 110,000.

The UN reports the situation in eastern and northeastern Ukraine to be extremely volatile, amid heavy fighting, including on the outskirts of Kyiv. Civilians in the cities remain trapped by the fighting in dire conditions without access to food, water, electricity and basic supplies and services, according to Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary general. The UN said it had confirmed that 474 civilians had been killed and 861 injured since Monday. 

Israel said on Tuesday that it would offer temporary refuge to 5,000 Ukrainian refugees who have no Jewish connections and allow 20,000 Ukrainians who were in Israel before the war, most of them illegally and without visas, to stay until the fighting is over. The decision comes amid a fraught debate in Israel and abroad over how widely the country should open its doors to those fleeing the war.

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