US has completed training hundreds of Ukrainian forces on new weapons: Pentagon

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Hundreds of Ukrainian forces have completed training on new weapons provided by the US, a senior Pentagon official said on Monday.

According to the defense official, Russia is also still experiencing low morale from its troops as the invasion of Ukraine entered its 75th day.

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The official said that 310 troops were trained on US-made M777 howitzers, “up from about 200 [trained forces] one week ago.”

Another 50 Ukrainians are currently in training, and the US has started new two-week training classes on maintenance for the systems.

As for the customized Phoenix Ghost drones the US provided to Ukraine, the official said there were 20 trained Ukrainians to operate the more than 20 drones in the country.

“We are working to get the rest of them [drones] in there,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

And another 15 Ukrainian soldiers have completed training on air-defense systems, and 60 have completed training on M113 Armored Personnel Carriers.

Ukraine has been putting up an effective fight and stalling Russian advancement in the Donbas, the official told reporters.

But the Kremlin has increased the number of battalion tactical groups (BTGs) to 97 from about 92 in recent days.

However, the official said that Russian troops continue to fail to obey orders from their generals in the Donbas.

“They haven’t really achieved any significant progress on the axis lines they anticipated achieving in the northern Donbas. They are being resisted very effectively by the Ukrainians,” the defense official said.

The official added: “We still see them [Russia] struggling to resupply their troops.”

Service members of pro-Russian troops drive a tank during Ukraine-Russia conflict near Novoazovsk in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 6, 2022. (Reuters)
Service members of pro-Russian troops drive a tank during Ukraine-Russia conflict near Novoazovsk in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine May 6, 2022. (Reuters)

Sanctions begin to bite

The Pentagon official said that US sanctions were beginning to impact Russia’s ability to restock its weapons stockpile.

“They have blown through a lot of their [precision-guided missiles] PGMs,” the official said, noting: “They are having inventory issues with their PGMs, and we do believe sanctions and export controls, particularly with electronic components, have had an impact.”

The sanctions are “definitely beginning to bite into his [Putin’s] industrial-base capabilities.”

In coordination with Europe, Washington has imposed heavy sanctions on Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin and on his ability to acquire needed parts for weapons.

Much of the West has issued bans on Russian luxury goods and oil following Putin's decision to invade neighboring Ukraine.

Read more: Russia stalled near Donbas, looking to cut power for railroads in Ukraine: Pentagon

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