Russia has not succeeded in disrupting Ukrainian supply lines and its movement around the Donbas remains “stalled,” a senior US defense official said on Wednesday.
But the official noted a significant development with Russian forces increasing strikes around Ukraine’s Lviv, where the Kremlin is looking to wipe out the power needed for railroads.
“Both sides rely on the rail for resupply,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Pentagon official said that no US or other aid shipments had been hit by Russian strikes, despite the Kremlin claiming that it had previously done so and would continue to.
As for US military aid to Ukraine, the official revealed that the US had so far sent 5 Soviet-era helicopters, which US President Joe Biden promised.
According to the official, while the Russians have reportedly shifted focus on controlling the Donbas, around 2,000 Russian forces remain around Mariupol.
Last month, a European official in Washington said that seizing control of Mariupol would help Russia secure a land bridge from the Donbas to Crimea along Ukraine’s coastal strip.
Earlier this week, a senior Pentagon official said that Russia had made “minimal, at best, progress” in the Donbas.
And on Monday, the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) said that Russia was planning to annex two Ukrainian regions, possibly a third, in the coming weeks.
Doubling down on previous remarks from US officials, the Pentagon official said Wednesday that Russia’s Wagner Group was still looking to recruit fighters from Syria and Libya.
The official also said that Washington had not seen any indications that Belarus was willing to engage in combat. Neighboring Belarus has supported Putin’s war on Ukraine and has hosted Russian troops and allowed them to launch strikes on Ukrainian targets from its territory.
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