By DoD News
By David Vergun
Since the start President Joe Biden’s administration, roughly $2.5 billion worth of security assistance has been supplied. That equates to more than half of Ukraine’s defense budget for last year, which was about $4.2 billion, the official said.
“It’s an immense amount, and we’re committed to doing more; and I think you will see us do more very, very soon,” the official said, mentioning the most recent Javelin missiles and Switchblade unmanned aerial systems coming from the United States.
Some 30 other nations are also providing security assistance in various quantities, the official said.
Many nations have provided weapons and systems that the Ukrainians know how to use and are using effectively, the official said.
“I think there’s a lot of things that have gone into the Ukrainians’ ability thus far to fight so well and so skillfully and to really beat back the Russians on so many multiple lines of axes,” the official said.
Through their ability and will, Ukrainian fighters have adapted to Russian tactics in real time, the official said. “They are skilled and courageous fighters, and you just can’t take that away from them.”
Another factor for Ukraine’s successes is its command and control, the official said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his top leadership still have effective command and control over their forces. “They know where they are. They’re moving them around as needed. They’re being very nimble and have not had the challenges that the Russians have had with respect to command and control.”
An additional factor is that, over the last eight years, Ukraine has received excellent training from the United States and NATO allies like the United Kingdom and Canada, the official said.
That training has helped Ukraine become a more battlefield-effective force in terms of the development of their noncommissioned officer corps, operational maneuverability, logistics and sustainment, communications and long-range fires, the official said.
“United States security assistance has had a profound impact on their ability to continue to defend their country. We are the biggest donor, and we are providing the most material. We are not the only ones, though, and other countries are doing this as well. Some of them are being more open about what they’re providing. Some of them are providing terrific capabilities that they won’t talk about,” the official said.
These are countries that have systems, weapons and platforms that the Ukrainians are comfortable using and know how to use, the official added. “We wouldn’t have those in our stocks.”
Lastly, the United States is doing a lot of the coordination for the delivery of those materials and helping to get it into Ukrainian hands as quickly as possible, the official said. “It is a team effort.”
Situation on the Ground
The department continues to see movement and activity of Russian forces in Belarus and in Russia as they reassemble and stage their forces for what the DOD believes is going to be a renewed push into eastern Ukraine, the official said.
Besides troops, some of what is being staged includes helicopters and additional artillery, the official said.
The department believes that Valuyki, Belgorod and Rovenki — all in Russia just to the northeast of Ukraine — are staging and resupply areas, the official said.
Russian forces are also in Donetsk Oblast, further in the south of the Donbas Region, as well as further south in Ukraine near Mykolayiv and Mariupol, the official said.
A Russian convoy is still north of Izyum, Ukraine and there are also Russian forces to the south of that city, the official said.
There have been around 150 Russian-manned aircraft sorties flown over the last 24 hours, with airstrikes continuing to focus on Mariupol and the joint forces operations area of Ukraine, the official said.
“We still hold Mariupol as a contested city. We still hold that Ukrainian forces are in Mariupol and they’re defending it. … We still do not believe that the Russians have taken Mariupol, but clearly, they remain focused on that,” the official said.
At least 1,550 Russian missiles have been launched against Ukraine since the start of the invasion, the official mentioned.