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Russian troops ‘digging in,’ establishing defensive positions in Kyiv: Pentagon

The official also revealed the US assessment that Russian troops were pushed back about 55 kilometers east and northeast of Ukraine’s capital.

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A senior US defense official said Wednesday that Russian forces were “digging in” and taking more defensive positions around Kyiv.

The official also revealed the US assessment that Russian troops were pushed back about 55 kilometers east and northeast of Ukraine’s capital over the last 24 hours.

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“We’re starting to see now that they are basically digging in, and they are establishing defensive positions. So, it’s not that there’s they’re not advancing. They’re actually not trying to advance right now,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin ordered on Feb. 24, has so far failed to achieve the goal of capturing Kyiv and overthrowing its government.

But, the official said that Russia is prioritizing the fight in the Donbas region, specifically in Luhansk and Donetsk. This could be part of Russia's plan to cut off Ukrainian troops and not allow them to move further west to defend other cities, according to the official.

The fierce resistance from the Ukrainian military and its people was unexpected by the Russians, according to local and foreign officials.

Separately, the US defense official said that new weapons shipments should arrive in Ukraine in the “next day or so.”

“We are already aggregating stocks in the United States, and we’re getting ready to ship them over there,” the official said.

While the official did not elaborate on what specific weapons would be shipped, they said Washington was focused on providing weapons to Ukraine that “they’re using very effectively.”

The official mentioned Javelins and Stingers.

This shipment is part of a new, $800 million arms supply that US President Joe Biden announced last week after Ukraine’s president gave a virtual address to US lawmakers.

Asked if the US would deploy more troops from the States to Europe, the official did not rule anything out. “We’re not going to take off the table the possibility that [Secretary Austin] will flow more forces in [to Europe] from the United States or reposition from elsewhere in Europe,” the official said.

As for Belarus and reports that it may deploy troops to Ukraine to aid Putin, the official said there were no indications that they were “staging or getting ready to go in.”

Read more: Russia summons US ambassador, warns ties with Washington on verge of collapsing

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