Reacting to Ukraine’s military fight against Russia, retired U.S. Navy commander Kirk Lippold says the outnumbered defenders have done a “remarkable job” against the invaders so far and deserve credit for their effort.
“Because of the lethality that they have been able to inflict,” he tells AFN, “on the Russian forces as they have come into their country.”
Samaritan's helping in Ukraine, three neighboring countries
Charlie Butts, AFN
Samaritan's Purse, the disaster relief ministry, says it has helped more than 25,000 people in Ukraine and surrounding countries after the first plane load of personnel and supplies landed March 4.
AFN has reported Samaritan’s Purse set up an emergency field hospital on the outskirts of Lviv, Ukraine. The first patients were seen March 14.
A medical clinic has now been set up at a train station in the city, too.
The ministry is also working elsewhere in the region in Poland, Romania, and Moldova.
Samaritan’s spokesman Dave Phillips tells AFN their staff and volunteers are witnessing a humanitarian crisis where seven million people have been displaced internally and where millions more have fled Ukraine’s borders for safer ground.
In neighboring Moldova, Samaritan’s Purse is operating a mobile medical unit that is treating refugees being housed in a stadium. Churches in the area are distributing food and hygiene kits that are donated by the international ministry.
“So we're really seeing a lot of need,” Phillips says, “for people who have spiritual and physical needs that we want to meet in Jesus’ name.”
As the war rolled on this week, The Kyiv Independent newspaper reported Monday morning that 15,000 Russian troops have been lost, as well as 498 tanks; 1,535 armored personnel carriers; 121 helicopters; and 97 aircraft. Those figures, which come from Ukraine’s armed forces, are most likely overestimated for propaganda purposes during a war that is being documented daily, sometimes hourly, on social media and 24-hour news channels.
NATO and western intelligence agencies put Russian KIA figures at 3,000 to 10,000 so far depending on the source and the counting method, CNN reported over the weekend.
Regardless of the precise number, the CNN story points out, there is no dispute Vladimir Putin’s “special operation” in Ukraine, which was supposed to be over by now, has failed.
"It becomes more evident every day,” a NATO official told CNN, “that Putin gravely miscalculated.”
After a military build-up that spanned half a year, Putin had surrounded Ukraine on three sides with an estimated 150,000 troops when the tanks and helicopters crossed into the sovereign country February 24. The original strategy was to quickly capture Kyiv, the capital city, and depose U.S.-backed President Volodymyr Zelensky with a pro-Russian puppet.
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Defense Secretary, said over the weekend that Russia’s ground forces have “essentially stalled” after Putin planned for a blitzkrieg-like attack to end the war quickly. Putin instead put his troops into a “woodchipper” of Ukrainian resistance, Austin told CBS News.
Citing U.S. military officials, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Russia’s military has regrouped for a “Plan B” that seizes and holds other key territories in order to demand Zelensky accept a peace proposal.
One example of that strategy is the ongoing attack on Mariupol, a seaport city of 446,000 in southeastern Ukraine, where Russian artillery has shelled the city for three weeks. It is also the city where more than 2,300 civilians have reportedly been killed and where their bodies are being tossed into mass graves.
Capturing Mariupol would allow Russian forces to link up, The Associated Press explained, but Russia’s demand for the city to raise a white flag of surrender was met with a counter-offer: Allow civilians to escape the fighting without being bombed and killed as they leave.
“There can be no talk of any surrender, laying down of arms,” Irina Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy minister, told the media. “We have already informed the Russian side about this.”
According to Lippold, the "outgunned" and "outmanned" people of Ukraine are making Russia pay a "very heavy price" for Putin's invasion.