Washington, Sep 14 The White House has said that there is a sense of momentum by Ukrainian forces against Russia but cautioned that the ongoing war in Ukraine remains “unpredictable”.
We’ve been watching closely. The events in the north are more dramatic than what we’ve seen in the south. I would let President Volodymyr Zelenskyy determine and decide whether he feels militarily they’ve reached a turning point. But clearly, at least in the Donbas, there’s a sense of momentum here by the Ukrainian armed forces, said John Kirby, the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House on Tuesday.
Responding to questions, Kirby said that in the north they have seen Russians evacuate, withdraw, and retreat from their defensive positions, particularly there in and around the Kharkiv oblast. They have left fighting positions. They’ve left supplies, he said.
They are calling it a repositioning, but it’s certain they have withdrawn in the face of Ukrainian armed forces that are clearly on the offence. Obviously, these are some dramatic events we’re watching, but it’s war, and war is unpredictable. And I think we’re going to watch this as closely as we can, but it’s really the Ukrainian armed forces that — that should speak to the — to the progress they’re making, he said.
Describing it as a dynamic situation, Kirby said that it remains to be seen what their next steps are going to be here as the Ukrainians remain on the offensive up in the north and to continue to pursue a counteroffensive down in the south.
They were invaded. They have a right to defend their country and their territorial integrity, and that means going on the offence, he asserted.
It doesn’t mean just defending. It’s important to remember that even from the get-go here, but way back in February, in March, the Ukrainians were still on the offence as well as on the defence in this war, he noted.
Last week, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley said that Milley participated in the fifth Ukraine Defence Contact Group Meeting at Ramstein Air Base along with senior defence leaders from nearly 50 countries from around the world.
Austin highlighted, that these international leaders came into the meeting with a lot of momentum and concluded the session even more united and resolved to keep up the shared support for Ukraine’s right to defend itself.
During the meeting, Austin also announced the authorisation of a presidential drawdown of security assistance valued at up to USD675 million to meet Ukraine’s critical security and defence needs, bringing the total amount of US security assistance to USD 17.2 billion since 2014.
Ukraine continues to use this aid and that provided by other international partners to great effect on the battlefield in their fight to defend their country, Pentagon Spokesman Patrick Ryder told reporters at a separate news conference.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ryder said they have seen the Ukrainians demonstrate remarkable adaptability in their ability to use their warfighting capabilities to great effect, so it’s not surprising to us that they have pushed as quickly as they have.
They’ve also, again, shown a remarkable ability to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves on the battlefield, and the current counteroffensive in Kharkiv is no exception to that, he said.
Refraining from responding to a question about what Russia might do next, Ryder said they’ve demonstrated their intent to keep fighting in Ukraine and to prolong their illegal occupation.
We obviously, on our end, will continue to monitor the situation and our focus will continue to be on working with the Ukrainians and the international community to provide them with the support that they need, he said.
But I will highlight that President Vladimir Putin could deescalate the situation tomorrow by withdrawing Russian forces, but as long as that doesn’t happen, we’ll continue to stand behind Ukraine, he said.
State Department’s Spokesperson, Ned Price, told reporters at a separate news conference that the US has always said this conflict, this war, Russia’s war against Ukraine won’t be linear in terms of territorial gains.
But we believe that we have put our Ukrainian partners on a path to help them mount an effective defence of their country. We saw that in the earliest days. We’ve seen that in more recent days, he said.
President Putin and his cronies have done everything they can in the first instance to limit that information from reaching the Russian people, to feed the Russian people a steady diet of lies and disinformation in an effort to hide the true costs of this war, Price alleged.
There has also been the sort of lower level discussion and dialogue that you point to across Russia. Unfortunately, this is a system that is ruled by and large by one individual and it is an individual surrounded, not by democratically elected aides, but by individuals who have set up in many ways safeguards against popular opinion, in some cases, even reaching the innermost sanctum of the Kremlin, Price said