Russian military forces advancing on Kyiv and other major cities have been slowed by Ukrainian fighters, defense officials in the United States and the United Kingdom said on Feb. 26.
“Their momentum continues to be slowed predominately from a stiff Ukrainian resistance,” a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on a call.
“What they have seen is a very determined resistance, and it has slowed them down,” the official said.
According to the UK’s Ministry of Defense, the speed of the advance has been slowed, “likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance.”
The Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centers while leaving soldiers to encircle and isolate them, according to British officials, who added that the capture of Kyiv is still the primary goal of the Russian invasion.
Fighting broke out in Ukraine’s capital overnight but Ukraine still held the city on Saturday. Kyiv is about 240 miles from the Ukraine–Russia border; the Russian forces were about 18 miles, or 30 kilometers, from the city center, the UK Ministry of Defense said.
The situation is prone to rapid change, according to the U.S. official. “It’s a battlefield and events on the battlefield are dynamic and they can change very, very quickly,” the official added.
Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in the Lugansk region on Feb. 26, 2022. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)
More than 100,000 Russian troops have entered Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Twitter post.
Zelensky has refused to leave Kyiv, rebuffing a U.S. offer of evacuation and urging Ukrainians to fight.
“We will not lay down our weapons. We will defend our country. Our weapons are our strength. This is our land. Our country. Our children. We will protect all of them,” Zelensky said in a video posted to social media.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense urged the citizens to do whatever they can to slow down the Russians, including removing signs with numbers and names of the streets, cities, and villages in their regions.
“Let’s do everything possible to get rid of Russian occupiers from Ukraine as soon as possible,” the ministry wrote in a Twitter post.
Citizens were also encouraged to erase any marks the Russian military left on the road as they moved through the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to the nation via his smartphone in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine on Feb. 26, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Meanwhile, Ukrainian allies are offering more assistance to Ukraine.
President Joe Biden authorized an additional $350 million in military assistance from Pentagon inventories, including anti-armor, small arms, various munitions, body armor, and related equipment.
The White House also reportedly asked Congress to provide $6.4 billion in extra funds to assist Ukraine.
The UK is sending defensive military aid to Ukraine and said it trained 22,000 Ukrainian troops.