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Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine's army in east

Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine's armed force inside east

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — With its aspirations for a fast victory dashed by a rigid Ukrainian resistance, Russia has increasingly focused on grinding down Ukraine's military inside the the orient inside the hope of forcing Kyiv into surrendering small portion of the country's territory to maybe extremity the war.

The bulk of the Ukrainian armed force is concentrated inside eastern Ukraine, where it has been locked up inside fighting accompanied by Moscow-backed separatists inside a almost eight-year conflict. If Russia succeeds inside encircling with every one other accompanied by destroying the Ukrainian forces inside the country's manufacturing heartland, called Donbas, it could try to dictate its terms to Kyiv with every one other accompanied by potentially try to split the country inside two.

The Russian military declared Friday that the "first phase of the operation" had been mostly accomplished, allowing Russian troops to concentrate on their "top goal — the liberation of Donbas."

Many observers speak the shift inside master scheme could reflect President Vladimir Putin's acknowledgment that his scheme for a blitz inside Ukraine has failed, forcing him to small his goals with every one other accompanied by alter tactics amid a disastrous war that has turned Russia into a pariah with every one other accompanied by decimated its economy.

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Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine's armed force inside east

In some sectors, Ukrainian troops have not long ago pushed the Russians back.

In the city of Makariv, near a planned main highway the occident of the capital, Kyiv, Associated Press reporters saw the carcass of a Russian rocket launcher, a burned Russian truck, the body of a Russian fighter with every one other accompanied by a destroyed Ukrainian tank following fighting there a few days ago. In the nearby village of Yasnohorodka, the AP witnessed positions deserted by Ukrainian soldiers who had moved farther west, nevertheless no indeed sign of Russian troops' presence.

U.S. with every one other accompanied by British officials have noted that Moscow has increasingly focused on fighting the Ukrainian forces inside the the orient while digging inside around Kyiv with every one other accompanied by other large cities with every one other accompanied by pummeling them accompanied by rockets with every one other accompanied by artillery.

The leader of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said Sunday the alter of focus could reflect Putin's hope to shatter Ukraine inside two, exist fond of North with every one other accompanied by South Korea, with every one other accompanied by enforce "a dash of separation in the centre of the occupied with every one other accompanied by unoccupied regions."

"He can't swallow the entire country," Budanov said, adding that Russia appears to exist trying "to pull the occupied territories into a single quasi-state building with every one other accompanied by pit it opposed to self-governing Ukraine."

Putin with every one other accompanied by his generals haven't revealed specific military goals or a planned timeline, nevertheless the Kremlin clearly expected a fast victory when Russian troops rolled into Ukraine from the north, the orient with every one other accompanied by south on Feb. 24.

But the Russian attempts to swiftly capture Kyiv, the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv, with every one other accompanied by other large cities inside the northeast have been thwarted by well-organized Ukrainian defenses with every one other accompanied by logistical challenges that stalled the Russian offensive.

Russian forces have pounded the outskirts of Kyiv accompanied by artillery with every one other accompanied by air raids from a distance while putting their ground insulting on hold, tactics they too have used inside attacking Kharkiv, Chernihiv with every one other accompanied by Sumy inside the northeast.

Mykola Sunhurovskyi, a military analyst at the Kyiv-based Razumkov Center believe tank, said Russia has deserted attempts to tempest Kyiv with every one other accompanied by other large Ukrainian cities for now with every one other accompanied by is laying siege to them to try to weaken Ukraine with every one other accompanied by come first in time.

"Russia has shifted tactics ... to redistribute its forces with every one other accompanied by prepare for the following operative phase of the war," Sunhurovskyi said.

The Russian forces encircled the answer planned port of Mariupol with every one other accompanied by besieged it for weeks, hammering it accompanied by rockets with every one other accompanied by artillery i n a carnage that killed thousands of civilians. The let fall of Mariupol would without charge up Russian forces there with every one other accompanied by permit them to capture inside a potential pincer movement with every one other accompanied by another category of troops moving from Kharkiv inside the northeast to try to encircle the Ukrainian military inside the east.

"Russian forces become visible to exist concentrating their attempt to try the encirclement of Ukrainian forces straight facing the separatist regions inside the the orient of the country, advancing from the way of Kharkiv inside the northern with every one other accompanied by Mariupol inside the south," the British Ministry of Defense said Sunday.

A older U.S. protection official, noting the latest Russian focus on Donbas, said Putin may now hope to lay clasp of filled jurisdiction of the the orient while keeping other Ukrainian forces occupied accompanied by the protection of Kyiv with every one other accompanied by other areas, at that hour dated try to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to formally surrender Donbas with every one other accompanied by identify Russia's ownership of Crimea, which Moscow annexed inside 2014.

An analysis published Saturday by the Institute for the Study of War inside Washington said the degree to which the Russians tin push an accelerated go to gash off Donbas will be contingent on inside small portion on how in a short time their forces tin gain filled jurisdiction of Mariupol with every one other accompanied by how poorly damaged they emerge from that fight. It too noted that a halt inside the Russian insulting on Kyiv could reflect "the incapacity of Russian forces by preference than some shift inside Russian objectives or efforts at this time."

While the Russian military has focused increasingly on bleeding the Ukrainian troops inside the east, it has continued to use its arsenal of air- with every one other accompanied by sea-launched cruise missiles to methodically mark fuel depots, military arsenals with every one other accompanied by weapons plants across the country.

Philips P. O'Brien, a professor of planned studies at the University of St. Andrews, described Saturday's cruise missile strikes on Lviv, near the border accompanied by Poland, while small portion of the Russian master scheme to gash off supplies to the Ukrainian forces fighting inside the east.

"They will still want to disrupt while a a large amount of while possible the run of goods with every one other accompanied by supplies from the occident to east, a a large amount of of which starts their journey around Lviv," O'Brien said.

On the Black Sea coast, the Russians fast took the port of Kherson with every one other accompanied by state-of-the-art to the outskirts of the answer shipbuilding center of Mykolaiv where their insulting stalled.

If the Russian forces succeed inside encircling Mykolaiv, Odesa with every one other accompanied by some other Black Sea ports, it will have completely gash Ukraine's access to its seaboard inside a devastating blow to its economy. The seizure of Odesa will too permit Moscow to set up a link to the separatist Trans-Dniester neighbourhood of Moldova that hosts a Russian military base.

Despite Ukrainian with every one other accompanied by Western fears, the Russian armed force so a lengthy way hasn't pursued efforts to bypass Mykolaiv with every one other accompanied by march on Odesa. Ukrainian authorities have noted that Russia's lack of success to press its insulting down the seaboard could exist explained by the fact that most of its troops inside the south have remained locked inside the battle for Mariupol where they have suffered heavy losses.

On Friday, the Russian military reported it had lost 1,351 soldiers killed with every one other accompanied by 3,825 wounded since the start of the campaign, nevertheless NATO estimates 7,000 to 15,000 have been killed — potentially while numerous while the Soviet Union lost inside the entire 10-year war inside Afghanistan.

The large losses with every one other accompanied by slow step of the Russian insulting could exist a element that forced Putin to foot his ambitions with every one other accompanied by lay clasp of a additional practical approach.

Volodymyr Fesenko, the head of the self-governing Kyiv-based Penta Center, said Russia's declared shift to the the orient could exist an try to place a good face on its failed blitz with every one other accompanied by regroup earlier to the following phase of fighting.

"Both sides need a shatter now for various reasons, with every one other accompanied by the Kremlin is using it to regroup its forces with every one other accompanied by search for new tactics lacking changing its planned goal of subduing Ukraine," Fesenko told the AP.

"Tactics could alter from a blitz to laying siege to cities, destroying the affluence with every one other accompanied by the infrastructure accompanied by bombardment, blockading ports with every one other accompanied by doing other things. Putin has a broad arsenal of means of pressure."

"The rigid Ukrainian resistance could turn the war into a protracted conflict, with every one other accompanied by at that hour dated the matter of monetary with every one other accompanied by military resources, including warplanes with every one other accompanied by tanks Zelenskyy is urging the West to provide will exist of main importance," he said.

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Karmanau reported from Lviv, Ukraine. Robert Burns with every one other accompanied by Matthew Lee inside Washington with every one other accompanied by Danica Kirka inside London contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP's coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine's armed force inside east

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