With a massive convoy of Russian tanks and equipment headed in the direction of Kyiv early on Tuesday, western officials and analysts are worried about prolonged fighting in the capital of Ukraine.
In recent days, US and British assessments have argued Russia had been unable to attain air superiority over Ukraine and its campaign was making slower-than-expected progress.
US Senator Chris Murphy tweeted details of a “classified” briefing on Ukraine he attended on Monday.
Murphy tweeted that the US believed “Russians have fallen behind their timeline. Ukrainian resistance has been fierce and there have been multiple Russian equipment and logistics failures.”
He noted the US believed the fight for Kyiv would last weeks. “The ability to keep supply lines running to Ukraine remains alive, but Russia will try to encircle and cut off Kiev in the next several weeks. The fight for Kiev will be long and bloody and Ukrainians are rapidly preparing for street to street combat.”
Murphy also said the US and its allies were coordinating to seize assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and “his oligarch allies”. Murphy described the plan as “likely a further step than Putin’s inner circle anticipated.”
Senator Marco Rubio tweeted early on Tuesday “Russia is moving to quickly choke off supplies to Kyiv by sealing off the western part of the city… Remember all the material being sent to Ukraine has to come across the border and from the western part of the country.”
CNN quoted a source familiar with US intelligence as saying “From a purely military/tactical standpoint, Russia has the manpower and firepower to take Kyiv. No question... And no matter how much resistance the Ukrainians put up.”
CNN reported that US officials believe “Roughly a quarter of Russia's amassed troops have yet to enter Ukraine”, meaning Putin could launch a “second wave” attack and also order a “far less restrained bombing campaign, including airstrikes, long-range missiles and artillery.”
CNN quoted a senior defence official as saying “They [Russians] have been slowed and they have been frustrated by their lack of progress on Kyiv, and one of the things that could result is a reevaluation of their tactics and the potential for them to be more aggressive and more overt in both the size and the scale of their targeting of Kyiv.”
An official said Russia was likely to lay siege to Kyiv and predicted “ugly scenes of urban warfare”.
CNN quoted an official as saying Ukraine's resistance would inevitably collapse. “While the Ukrainians are putting on a stiff defense, and a much better one than I think the Russians anticipated, there will be a time where they will run out of ammunition. There will come a time where they run out of fuel and they can't move... We are mindful of that and they are mindful of that,” CNN quoted the official as saying.