Russia has repositioned about two-thirds of its forces from outside Kiev, with many troops consolidating in Belarus, where they are expected to be retooled, resupplied and redeployed elsewhere in Ukraine, a senior Russian official said on Monday. US defense.
Over the weekend, Ukraine said its forces had seized all areas around Kiev, claiming complete control of the capital region for the first time since Russia launched the invasion.
The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that the US estimated that before the withdrawal there were just under 20 tactical battalions concentrated in Kiev. The number represented less than one-sixth of the tactical battalions the Kremlin deployed for the invasion.
“We still assess that the vast majority of the more than 125 tactical battalions that the Russians invested in this invasion are still in Ukraine,” the official said.
The official estimated that Russian forces that withdrew from Kiev would likely be redirected to eastern Ukraine, but this has yet to be confirmed.
“What we continue to believe is that they will be retooled, resupplied, maybe even beefed up with additional manpower and then sent back to Ukraine to continue fighting elsewhere,” he said.
As Russian troops regrouped for battles in eastern Ukraine, cities around Kiev bore the scars of five weeks of fighting.
The discovery after the withdrawal of Russian troops from a mass grave and of bodies tied up and shot at point blank range in Bucha, outside Kiev, has sparked global outrage and should prompt the United States and Europe to impose additional sanctions. against Moscow.
The mayor of Bucha, a town 37 kilometers northwest of the capital Kiev, said 300 residents had been killed by Russian forces as Chechen fighters controlled the area.
The Kremlin has denied allegations related to the killing of civilians in the city.
The US Army was not in a position to independently confirm Ukrainian reports of atrocities committed by Russian forces against civilians in Bucha, but it also has no reason to dispute the claims, the US defense source said.