• Sat. Mar 25th, 2023


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Russia’s hesitation

Good evening. This is your Russia-Ukraine War Briefing, a weeknight guide to the latest news and analysis about the conflict.

There is no question that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been brutal: It has killed tens of thousands of people, leveled cities and forced millions from their homes.

But some military analysts and Western officials are wondering why the onslaught has not been even worse, my colleagues Anton Troianovski and Julian E. Barnes report.

Part of the reason appears to be sheer incompetence: The opening weeks of the war demonstrated vividly that Russia’s military was far less capable than believed before the invasion.

Russian missile strikes have targeted some infrastructure across Ukraine, including an important bridge in the country’s southwest yesterday and the runway of the Odesa airport on Saturday. But it has failed to significantly disrupt supply lines carrying Western weapons. Analysts say that may reflect Russia’s difficulties with precision missiles and its inability to control the airspace over Ukraine.

Overall, American and European officials say that President Vladimir Putin’s tactics in recent weeks have appeared to be remarkably cautious, marked by an “anemic, plodding” offensive in eastern Ukraine.

“This is a strange, special kind of war,” Dmitri Trenin, until recently the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, said. “Russia has set some rather strict limits for itself, and this is not being explained in any way.”


Follow our coverage of the war on the @nytimes channel.

In Ukraine

  • Russian missiles struck power substations in the western city of Lviv, knocking out electricity to parts of the city.

  • The cease-fire in Mariupol broke down as Russia launched more rockets at the Azovstal steel factory, with some civilians still trapped inside, Reuters reports.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain told Ukrainian lawmakers that their defense against Russia’s invasion would rank as “Ukraine’s finest hour.”

Beyond Ukraine

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow — Adam

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