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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.

  • Survivors from the Mariupol steel plant reached safety in the town of Zaporizhzhia.

  • Hungary’s foreign minister said his country would not support E.U. sanctions that would jeopardize its energy supply from Russia.

  • Russia appears to be preparing to annex the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s east, and the Kherson region in the south, using sham elections to claim control.

  • Get live updates here.


American and European officials say that President Vladimir Putin’s tactics in recent weeks have appeared to be remarkably cautious.Credit…Mikhail Tereshchenko/Sputnik, via Reuters

Russia’s hesitation

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.

  • Why isn’t Russia bombing more bridges, railway networks and other supply lines? They are allowing Ukraine’s military to receive increasingly lethal weapons from the U.S. and its allies.

  • Why are Western leaders still able to visit Kyiv safely, as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did on Sunday?

  • Why isn’t Russia doing far more to inflict pain on the West, whether by cyberattack, sabotage or cutting off more energy exports to Europe?

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.”


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What else we’re following

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

  • Russia accused Israel of backing “neo-Nazis” in Kyiv, the latest fallout over anti-Semitic remarks.

  • Carnegie Hall will host a concert in support of Ukraine.

  • The U.S. has reclassified the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner as “wrongfully detained” by Russia, ESPN reports.


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

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