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Why Russia gave up on urban war in Kyiv and turned to big battles in the east

Just weeks into its war in Ukraine, Russia has shifted its focus to the country’s east, redeploying weapons and troops and increasing attacks on key towns and cities.

The sudden pivot to friendlier territory — where pro-Moscow separatists have fought for years — comes after Russian forces failed to capture Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

At the start of the invasion, the Kremlin appeared confident that the city would fall without a fight, cowed by the speed and strength of Russia’s advance.

“They’re going to do this in a fast-moving, Hollywood style,” Jim Townsend, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Europe and NATO during the Obama administration, recalled thinking at the time.

[Why the Russian military is bogged down by logistics in Ukraine]

But almost immediately, Russian forces stalled outside the city, hobbled by poor planning and critical supply shortages.

They also lacked the sheer manpower to occupy Kyiv, a metropolis of nearly 3 million people.

Russia’s delay allowed Kyiv to build up its defenses and prepare for an urban battle — one that Moscow wasn’t prepared to fight.

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