Ukraine faces ‘uphill battle’ even as some Russian forces withdraw, US says

Ukraine still faces “an uphill battle” after Russia gave up most of the territory it had taken near Kharkiv after a flash counterattack that forced many of its retreating troops out of the country, according to the Pentagon.

A senior military official said on Monday that the Russian military “has conceded much of its interests” around Ukraine’s second-largest city and has “retired north and east,” adding that “many of these forces have moved across the border into Russia”.

The Pentagon’s assessment comes as US officials express cautious optimism about the Ukraine’s counterattack while warning that rapid progress has not fundamentally changed the short-term outlook on the battlefield.

“This continues to be an uphill battle for the Ukrainian people,” the official said. “Our focus is on continuing to work closely with the Ukrainians and the international community to provide them with the support they need as they repel the Russian aggressors.”

Some Western officials have encouraged by the progress of Ukrainesay their recent advances have strengthened the case for the Nato countries and partners who continue to provide them with lethal aid.

The US was aware of reports that Russian forces had dropped equipment as they withdrew, “which may indicate disorganized Russian command and control,” the official added.

A senior US defense official said Washington and its allies were discussing Ukraine’s long-term needs, such as air defense capabilities, and whether it might be appropriate to supply Kyiv with fighter jets. compete in the “medium and long term” or not.

Ukrainian military officials say they have reclaimed more than 3,000 square kilometers of terrain in what has become Moscow’s biggest military defeat since the country was forced to cancel plans to capture Kyiv and withdraw from the north of the country. country in March.

Officials and analysts expect that Ukraine will continue to move forward but Russia could regain some territory, adding that they do not expect progress to be linear.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said Ukraine had to detail its progress but added that “it’s clear they are fighting hard to defend the country and regain its territory”. The United States will “continue to support their need for battlefield success.”

She added that the White House is grateful to Congress “for the bipartisan support that has made it possible for Ukraine to provide Ukraine with unprecedented humanitarian troops.” [and] financial support” to date.

Jean-Pierre said the US and its allies “worked to meet Ukraine’s demand for what it needed to be successful on the battlefield – and that’s what we will continue to do.”

The United States has committed most of the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine that President Joe Biden signed in May, which is expected to last until the end of September. He has asked Congress for about $13 billion more in support for Ukraine. country, including lethal aid, and Washington is expected to announce another weapons package in the coming days.

The encouraging assessment from US officials comes after the Kremlin said it would continue with Invasion of Ukraine “Until all the goals set out initially are achieved.”

The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged its troops had withdrawn in the Kharkiv region, but authorities have since avoided calling it a retreat.

On Monday, the Ukrainian military tried to consolidate the gains it has made since launching its offensive in eastern Kharkiv. In Izyum, an important logistics hub where thousands of Russian troops are stationed, Ukrainian soldiers hoisted the national flag over the central district government building in the main square.

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