White House concerned about the slow pace of the Ukrainian offensive as Moscow says over 21 thousand NATO proxy troops were killed in July
Ukraine’s counteroffensive is moving more slowly than anticipated, but is making steady progress nonetheless, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has claimed.
Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer for an interview aired on Monday, Kirby was asked about the status of Kiev’s offensive thrust launched in June. The official suggested the results have been less than impressive so far. “They are moving slowly, and they’ll be the first to tell you they’re not moving as far or as fast as they’d like to. I think it’s important to remember, when they’re running into these defensive lines, they’re sometimes three deep, and they’re protected by minefields,” he said, adding “when you’re being shot at and shelled… it’s really painstaking work.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. © Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov
The spokesman went on to argue that while “it’s not as far as they’d like,” Kiev is “making progress” on the battlefield, also stating Washington would “keep making sure that they have all the materials they need.”
Pressed by host Wolf Blitzer about the US position on attempted Ukrainian attacks on the Russian capital, Kirby said that though the White House is not “encouraging” or “enabling” such strikes, targeting decisions are ultimately up to officials in Kiev.
“It’s not about accepting [the attacks], Wolf. They have to make decisions about what they’re going to target, and where they’re going to put their military capabilities,” he said, stressing that “Our position is we want to focus on the war inside Ukraine.”
The United Nations has condemned both Moscow and Kiev for strikes on cities, with the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres blasting Ukrainian attacks on Moscow earlier this week.“We are against any and all attacks on civilian facilities and we want them to stop,” Guterres’ deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters on Monday, soon after several drones were intercepted over Moscow’s financial district, resulting in damage to buildings and injuring one person.
On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Russian forces have stopped Ukraine’s much-hyped counteroffensive dead in its tracks, inflicting tens of thousands of casualties on Kiev’s troops.
Speaking at a conference attended by senior military commanders, Shoigu noted that Kiev “is desperately throwing new forces in a bid to storm our positions” but the Russian military thwarted all breakthrough attempts by relying on well-built and organized defenses, adding that the endurance of military personnel played an instrumental role in the success.
As a result, in July, Ukraine lost 20,824 service members and 2,227 units of military equipment, including 10 German-supplied Leopard tanks, 11 US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and 50 self-propelled guns from several Western countries, the minister stated.
According to Shoigu, on July 26 and 27 alone Ukraine lost more than 400 service members and 31 tanks and other heavy weaponry near the settlement of Rabotino in Russia’s Zaporozhye Region. Last week, a video surfaced on social media purporting to show a “graveyard” of Bradleys filmed at the same location.
“It is obvious that the Western-supplied weapons are failing to bring success on the battlefield and only prolong the military conflict,” Shoigu said.Short of any combat accomplishments, “the Kiev regime, with the support of its Western sponsors, is now focused on carrying out terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure” in Russian cities, Shoigu noted, adding that Moscow has introduced additional security measures and ramped up attacks on Ukrainian military facilities.
Kiev launched its much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russian defenses in the early days of June, but failed to gain any ground, according to the Defense Ministry in Moscow. Ukrainian officials have attributed the difficulties to delays in Western arms shipments, extensive minefields, lack of air support and stiff Russian resistance.
Meanwhile, several media reports have suggested that Kiev’s Western allies have grown “alarmed” at the slow progress on the battlefield, while being “jolted” by Ukrainian losses in armor. In addition, a Financial Times report from late June suggested that future Western support would depend on the results of the counteroffensive, which have so far been underwhelming.