Russian troops making ‘slow and uneven’ progress in eastern Ukraine, US official says
Russian forces are advancing slowly in eastern Ukraine due to continued logistics problems and other issues, a senior U.S. defense official said Thursday.
“We would assess that Russian forces are making slow and uneven and, frankly, we would describe it as incremental progress in the Donbas,” the official told reporters.
Kremlin troops are “only able to sustain several kilometers or so progress on any given day” due to continued pushback by the Ukrainians and logistics issues that have remained since the start of the Russian invasion more than two months ago, they said.
The Russians “don’t want to run out — run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines,” the official added.
They also noted that “there’s a lot of still back and forth in the Donbas in terms of territory gained and or lost by, frankly, both sides.”
After struggling in the areas around Kyiv, Moscow earlier this month began a renewed offensive in the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland and eastern-most region. For that effort, about 92 Russian battalion tactical groups are now in the country — up from 85 last week — with each group made up of about 700 to 1,000 troops.
In southern Ukraine, meanwhile, the U.S. has observed some Russian forces leaving the heavily bombed port city of Mariupol, which has still not fallen to the Kremlin, to head northwest toward Zaporizhzhia.
To bolster the Ukrainian forces in the face of the attacks, the U.S. said it will ship 90 howitzer artillery systems to the country, with “more than 60 percent” now within its borders, the official said.
The U.S. has also begun training Ukrainians on the artillery systems elsewhere in Europe, with the first batch of 50 troops finished and sent back into the country to teach more forces. A second group of 50 Ukrainians has started six days of training, the official said.