Russian soldiers being removed from front line with frostbite because of lack of warm clothing, reports say

Senior US defence official says Russian army is ‘struggling on many fronts’

Related video: Ukraine humanitarian crisis: ‘The displacement is huge’

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Russian soldiers are being removed from the frontlines of the war with Ukraine because of low morale and even frostbite, a US defence official has said.

The senior defence official identified not having enough warm clothing as an issue during a background briefing on Tuesday. The Pentagon also noted that the Russian army is struggling to provide enough food and fuel for its forces, The Washington Post reported.

“They’re struggling on many fronts,” the official said of the Russians, according to Task & Purpose.

“We’re starting to see indications” that Ukraine is “now able and willing to take back territory”, The Post quoted the official as saying.

The number of Russian casualties remains unclear as a Russian tabloid claimed that more than 9,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the fighting. Russian authorities pushed back on the report, saying it was published as the result of a hacking operation.

The Pentagon said they’re “aware of that incident,” but added that they cannot say if a hack was behind the report, or if it was a protest, or someone “making a statement”.

US estimates of the number of Russians who have died are uncertain.

“Even our best estimates are just that, and we have low confidence in them,” the official said, according to the paper.

The senior defence official added that if Russia expands its forces in Ukraine, “the most likely scenario would be that they would draw them from outside of Russia”.

But he also said he “can’t rule out that they wouldn’t pull out reinforcements from in Russia, too”.

While Russian officials “continue to talk about” the use of chemical weapons, the official said the US has seen no indications that such an attack is imminent.

There are currently around 21 Russian ships in the Black Sea, according to the official. Twelve of them are surface combatants and nine are tank landing ships, The Post noted.

Russian forces remain around 15km (9.3 miles) northwest of downtown Kyiv, and about 30km (18.6 miles) to the east.

“We just have not seen a lot of movement on their part,” the official said. He added that it’s a “good thing” that “the Russians are picking up” when the US deconfliction line is tested each day.

The official said the communication method is similar to the one established years ago during military actions in Syria, a line that is still active. But he suggested that its goals are narrow.

“It’s a deconfliction line. It’s not a complaint line,” he said.

Ukraine invasion puts Estonians on edge

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here.  If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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