Ukraine-Russia War Breaking News: Live Updates

ODESSA, Ukraine — After capturing the strategic city of Kherson, Russian forces pushed west Thursday, moving along the southern Black Sea coast toward Odessa. They continued to besiege the critical port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, although there was no indication that they had captured it.

After eight days of war, Russian troops deployed in the southern theater of Ukraine finally seemed to be gaining momentum. But their progress has been much slower than military analysts would have expected given their huge advantages over the Ukrainian military.

For eight years, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin built what amounts to a vast military staging area on the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. The forces stationed there should have been well equipped to charge out of their bases and grab bands. of the territory of southern Ukraine at the time the order was given to invade. Russia’s virtual naval monopoly in the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov should have provided additional firepower to aid ground troops.

Instead, their progress has been slow, beset by logistical problems and an apparent inability by commanders to coordinate disparate military forces, which, if combined effectively, should have easily overwhelmed Ukrainian defences.

“I thought along the Black Sea coast was where they would have their best success immediately because of the huge advantage of having this beachhead in Crimea,” Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said. , former commander of the United States Army in Europe.

Mariupol held on Thursday despite a devastating Russian bombardment that knocked out the city’s electricity, water and heating. But the mayor, Vadym Boichenko, painted a grim picture of the Russian siege.

“Mariupol is still bombed,” he said in a statement on Facebook. “Women, children and the elderly are suffering.”

Despite Russian artillery strikes in Kyiv, the capital, and Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, there has been very little progress in recent days among troops stationed in the north of the country.

In the south, the campaign to seize the southern coast was reignited this week with the capture of Kherson, a city of 300,000 that is a major center for shipbuilding. From there, Russian troops headed for Mykolaiv, another Black Sea port city.

On Thursday, Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych said about 800 Russian vehicles, including a column of rocket launchers, were heading towards the city, which has one of Ukraine’s three largest ports, from the north, from the east and south. Thursday morning there had been no shelling inside the city. But Ukrainian forces on the perimeter of the city have been targeted by long-range rocket fire, forcing them to constantly shift positions, Senkevych said.

“The city is ready for war,” Mr. Senkevych said.

But charging further up the coast could put Russian forces at risk of stretching too lightly, said Michael Kofman, director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute based in Arlington, Virginia. Already, forces in southern Ukraine and elsewhere appear in some cases to have overrun logistics units, forcing them to halt and wait for fuel and other supplies.

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