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Heil Harvard!

'Something Must Be Wrong': Why Hasn't the 40-Mile Russian Convoy Outside Kyiv Moved in Days?

AP Photo/Darko Bandic

What are they waiting for outside of Kyiv? I'm talking about the massive Russian military convoy that hasn't moved in days. It's poised to strike the death blow. It very well could be the push that fully encircles Kyiv, leading to a hellacious and bloody end to the siege on the Ukrainian capital. So, what gives? They're burning through fuel, keeping the vehicles heated. Are they literally out of gas? Is there a section of the column that is out of gas that would prevent an efficient rollout? Everyone is wondering what is going on. Pentagon officials zeroed in on the absence of Russian soldiers. 


"Something must be wrong," says Pentagon officials. We all know the logistics of this Russian invasion of Ukraine were not thought through by Moscow. Russia was expecting a push-over campaign, with mass desertions from the Ukrainian military and civilians kowtowing to Russian rule en masse. Instead, Putin got the Ukrainian military doing its best to kill as many Russians as possible, an entire able-bodied population that's mustered, grandmothers making Molotov cocktails, and Russian troops being killed everywhere. Russian tanks are running out of fuel. Ukrainian farmers are hooking these gas-depleted vehicles to their tractors and driving off (via BBC): 

Several reasons could explain why the huge column, which includes armoured vehicles, tanks, and towed artillery, has stopped its advance on the capital. They include logistical problems, unexpected Ukrainian resistance, and low morale among Russian troops.

Mechanical breakdown and congestion are causing problems, according to the UK government. Food and fuel are said to be in short supply, and there are reports that poor quality and badly maintained tyres may also be an issue.

"There's a massive logistical failure to provide fuel, food, spare parts and tyres... they got stuck in the mud in a way that makes it difficult to move vehicles out," General Sir Richard Barrons, former Commander of the UK Joint Forces Command, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

However, he said that command and control issues - for example faulty radio networks and communicating on open networks - are likely to be causing bigger problems.

The Pentagon also said Russia was having logistical issues and had taken the decision to deliberately regroup and reassess the "progress they have not made and how to make up the lost time".


Ukraine does have some air capability, and has been using powerful Turkish-made drones to destroy other Russian convoys. But according to Gen Barrons, Kyiv simply does not have the military force necessary to destroy a column of this size.

"They've been good at attacking the convoy from the front and sides," he said, but any damage inflicted from the air would be too localised.

Russia will also have air defences around the convoy which could bring down Ukrainian targets, Gen Barrons added. So an air attack on the convoy would risk losing more of Ukraine's already limited air force.


Either way, this is a good thing that this convoy is all gummed up. It buys much-needed time. The longer the Russians are bogged down, the more time the European Union, and us, have to resupply Ukraine with much-needed arms and ammunition. 

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