Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday.Valentina Petrova/Associated Press

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had stalled.

  • Austin said Russia was targeting civilians because its invasion had not succeeded as planned.

  • More than 7,000 Russian troops have been killed since fighting began, according to US estimates.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he thought Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine had “essentially stalled.”

Austin shared his assessment during an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation” that aired on Sunday. Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Austin said the situation “had the effect of him moving his forces into a wood chipper.”

“The Ukrainians have continued to attrit his forces, and they’ve been very effective using the equipment that we provided them, and armor weapons and aircraft weapons. And again, significant resolve on the part of the Ukrainian people,” he added.

More than 7,000 Russian troops have been killed since the fighting began, according to US estimates. Analysts and intelligence officials have previously suggested Russia’s assault on Ukraine has stalled more than three weeks since the full-scale invasion was launched on February 24.

But severe bombardment has continued to hit Mariupol, a port city in southeastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have said multiple civilian targets in the city have been struck by Russia, including a theater sheltering more than 1,000 people and an art school sheltering over 400.

When asked about the attacks in Mariupol, Austin told CBS he thought there had been “deliberate targeting of cities and towns and civilians” by Russia in recent weeks as a result of the military campaign being stalled.

“He’s not been able to achieve the goals that he wants to achieve as rapidly as he wants to achieve them,” Austin said of Putin, adding that was the reason he had resorted to these other tactics.

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