Putin has deployed nearly 100% of pre-staged forces into Ukraine- U.S. official

A satellite image shows an overview of a helicopter deployment, a battle group, and troops, in Valuyki
A satellite image shows an overview of a helicopter deployment, a battle group, and troops, in Valuyki, Russia February 20, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has now deployed into Ukraine nearly 100% of the more than 150,000 forces that he had pre-staged outside the country before the invasion, a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.

"That's our best estimate right now," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Twelve days after starting its invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have largely stalled north on Kyiv and still do not control the skies over Ukraine, increasingly relying on missile and artillery strikes.

The official said Russia had fired more than 625 missiles at Ukrainian targets.

The Pentagon ordered over the weekend an additional 500 troops to Europe, which would bring the total number of American forces there to about 100,000, the official said, as the United States seeks to guard against the war's spillover into NATO nations.

The additional troops had largely been expected and are being sent from the United States to support American troops already in the region.

"It is not based on something that we saw over the course of the weekend," the official said.

The deployment included additional refueling aircraft that would be sent to Greece along with an ordnance and maintenance company.

The official added that while the airspace over Ukraine was still contested, Putin still had the "vast majority" of his fighter jets and helicopter that had been amassed near Ukraine available to fly.

"We have seen no indication that he has felt compelled to flow in from elsewhere in Russia additional air force capability," the official added.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.