Mar 14, 2022 - World

Russian National Guard head says Ukraine invasion has been slowed

Russian National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov speaking in Moscow in December 2018.
Russian National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov speaking in Moscow in December 2018. Photo: Mihail Siergiejevicz/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Viktor Zolotov, chief of the Russian National Guard and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said Sunday that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine has been slower than expected, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: Zolotov's comments are the strongest admission yet from a member of the Russian Security Council that the invasion has not gone according to plan.

  • His acknowledgment is also at odds with assessments from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who told Putin during a televised Security Council meeting on Friday that "all is going according to the plan."
  • The Russian National Guard, an internal security force, currently has troops in Ukraine, per Reuters.

What they're saying: "I would like to say that, yes, not everything is going as fast as we would like," Zolotov said during a church service Sunday, according to Reuters.

  • "But we are going towards our goal step by step and victory will be for us, and this icon will protect the Russian army and accelerate our victory," he added.

The big picture: The U.S. estimated last week that Russia, which was expected to quickly disable Ukrainian forces, has lost between 2,000 and 4,000 soldiers so far throughout the invasion — far in excess of what it was anticipated to lose.

  • U.S. intelligence officials said the elevated number of causalities stem from Russia underestimating the strength of Ukrainian forces and internal military challenges with morale and logistics.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that approximately 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed by Russian forces.
  • The United Nations has estimated that, since the invasion began on Feb. 24, there have been 1,581 civilian casualties — 579 killed and 1,002 injured.

Go deeper ... Reports: Russia asks China for military and economic aid to help in Ukraine

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