US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has given up on capturing Kyiv after the Ukrainian military forced his army to retreat from the capital.
“Putin thought that he could very rapidly take over the country of Ukraine, very rapidly capture this capital city. He was wrong… in part because of the stiffness of the resistance he encountered,” Austin said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Congress.
He added: “I think Putin has given up on his efforts to capture the capital city and is now focused on the south and east of the country. And our goal is to give the Ukrainians everything they need, that we can possibly get to them, as fast as we can get it to them so that they can be successful in that fight as well.”
Kyiv has called for immediate delivery of more weaponry as Moscow recently retreated from the Ukrainian capital focusing instead on launching an offensive on the east of the country.
The fighting in that region will be more difficult for Ukrainians and hence they would need more military support from the US, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley said.
“This is not an easy fight that they’re involved in… There’s a significant battle yet ahead down in the southeast… They [Ukrainians] are asking for and they could probably use additional armor and artillery, and we are looking to our allies and partners to get those types of weapons that require no training,” Milley added.
“The fight down in the southeast – the terrain is different than it is in the north. It is much more open and lends itself to armor, mechanized offensive operations, on both sides. And so those are the systems that they're looking for," he said.