The Pentagon has been providing daily updates on the US assessment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine’s attempts to resist.
Here are the highlights of what a senior US defense official told reporters on Wednesday on day 42:
All Russian troops repatriated from around Kyiv and Chernihiv
Tens of thousands of Russian troops marching on Kyiv and Chernihiv have moved north across the Belarusian-Russian border to unite before likely moving back to eastern Ukraine, according to a senior defense official.
“We are assessing that they have completely withdrawn from Kiev and Chernihiv,” the official said.
But even with the Russian forces, the territory is still treacherous.
“There is some evidence that they have left mines and such, so the Ukrainians are quite cautious in some areas north of Kyiv when they start clearing the land and clearing the territory and occupying it again,” the official said.
On Monday, the Pentagon estimated that about a third of the Russian troops, who were originally scheduled to take over the capital, remained.
Prior to the evacuation, about 20 Russian troops were tactical groups (BTGs) consisting of 800-1,000 troops each in areas north and northwest of Kyiv, and another 20 BTGs near Chernihiv, according to the official.
Although the United States has not yet seen these troops reorganize elsewhere in Ukraine, it is likely to happen soon, according to the official.
“Our assessment is that they will not want to spend too much time on renovations and renewals because they have shown very publicly that they intend to prioritize their efforts in the Donbas area,” the official said.
But the timing will depend on how much work is needed to get the Russian military back into battle.
“Some of these units have been much more empty than others, and it is possible that Russia could combine units to create new BTG units, we just do not know,” the official said.
Of the approximately 130 BTG that Russia dedicated to the invasion, about 80 are still inside Ukraine, according to the official. There are already more than 30 in the Donbas area.
The United States is sending an “urgent” consignment of tank missiles to battle in the Donbas
Ukrainian troops are preparing for a major battle in the east as Russia prepares up to 40 GTGs to join an additional 30 troops already in the Donbas.
“They are not waiting,” the official said. “They are already adapting to Russia’s increased activity in the Donbas region and doing the best they can.”
On Tuesday, the Biden government authorized a $ 100 million deduction package to “meet Ukraine’s urgent need for additional Javelin military systems,” John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
A senior U.S. defense official said the move was aimed at helping Donbas.
“One of the reasons you saw us describe last night’s $ 100 million package was that there was an urgent need for a spear because of activities in the Donbas and the Ukrainians wanted to make sure they were ready for Russia’s expansion there. “Said the official.
Ukrainians receive drone training in the United States
A handful of Ukrainians currently in the United States due to “professional military training” were pulled aside for several days of training on Switchblade drones, which the United States is sending abroad as part of its military assistance, the official said.
“Although this is not a very difficult system to operate, we took advantage of having them in the country to provide them with basic training in it,” the official said. “And there could be some additional basic training while they’re here.”
The official said that less than 12 Ukrainians had received this training in the United States.
The Pentagon blames Russia for a hydrochloric acid explosion
The official said the Pentagon was “watching” a visible explosion of nitric acid in the Luhansk region, which Russia blamed on Ukraine.
“We have seen Russia claim that this was a Ukrainian attack on it. We do not believe it is true,” he said. “We believe the Russians are responsible, but exactly what they used when they did it, why they did it, what the damage is, we just do not have that detail,” the official said.
Russia’s “planned” atrocities in Bucha
“When you see individuals with their hands tied behind their backs and evidence that they have been shot in the head, it certainly seems premeditated,” the official said, recalling the need to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
Long-range strikes move to the east
Russia has fired more than 1,450 missiles at Ukraine, according to the official. The Pentagon is seeing more airstrikes heading east than Kyiv as Russia shifts its focus to the Donbas region.