Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russia’s airborne forces suffer ‘heavy casualties,’ UK says

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(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.

The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 26, 6:06 am
Russia’s airborne forces suffer ‘heavy casualties’ after ‘tactical failures,’ UK says

The Russian military’s airborne forces, known as the VDV, “have been heavily involved in several notable tactical failures since the start of Russia’s invasion” of neighboring Ukraine, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“This includes the attempted advance on Kyiv via Hostomel Airfield in March, the stalled progress on the Izium axis since April, and the recent failed and costly crossings of the Siverskyi Donets River,” the ministry said Thursday in an intelligence update.

“Russian doctrine anticipates assigning the VDV to some of the most demanding operations,” the ministry added. “The 45,000-strong VDV is mostly comprised of professional contract soldiers. Its members enjoy elite status and attract additional pay. The VDV has been employed on missions better suited to heavier armoured infantry and has sustained heavy casualties during the campaign.”

The VDV’s “mixed performance likely reflects a strategic mismanagement of this capability and Russia’s failure to secure air superiority,” according to the ministry.

“The misemployment of the VDV in Ukraine highlights how Putin’s significant investment in the armed forces over the last 15 years has resulted in an unbalanced overall force,” the ministry said. “The failure to anticipate Ukrainian resistance and the subsequent complacency of Russian commanders has led to significant losses across many of Russia’s more elite units.”

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