Russia’s progress in Ukraine’s Donbas vicinity remains “minimal at best,” with troops slowed by morale problems, supply issues and risk aversion in combat, a senior U.S. defense official said Monday.
“They are not making the progress that they had scheduled to make, that progress is rough and incremental,” the official said.
The official additional, “That’s not just because of Russian planning or without of logistics — a lot of it is because the Ukrainians have really been resisting quite well.”
And Russia’s gains, particularly east of Izium and in the city of Popasna in eastern Ukraine, have been fleeting, the official said.
“What we saw there in Popasna is not unlike what we’ve seen in other hamlets in the Donbas — they’ll move in and then declare victory, and then withdraw their troops only to let the Ukrainians take it back. So there was a lot of back and forth over the last associate of days,” the official said.
Russian troops have also been leaving the Mariupol area to push north and northwest in recent days, according to the official.
“Largely the efforts around Mariupol for the Russians are now in the vicinity of airstrikes,” the official said.
Russia is likely pushing these troops north as part of its plan to encircle and trap Ukrainian forces in the Donbas vicinity, according to the official.
More Ukrainian troops are completing training on the U.S.-made M777 howitzer system at multiple sites outside of Ukraine, according to the official. Ukrainians have also completed training on the Phoenix Ghost drone system.
-ABC News’ Matt Seyler
Click: See details