The Pentagon has been providing daily updates on the US assessment of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Ukraine resistance efforts.
Here are the highlights of what a senior US defense official told reporters on Monday at Day 47:
Russia’s new invasion commander
The United States assesses that Putin has appointed General Alexander Dvornikov to lead the invasion effort. But the change in leadership cannot erase the logistical and operational problems that have plagued Russian forces, according to the senior US defense official.
“They have big challenges to overcome, and the election of a general does not mean they are set up for greater success,” the official said.
Dvornikov previously led Russian forces in southern Ukraine.
“He was the commander of the southern military district. And in the first days and weeks of the conflict, the Russians were more successful in the south than in the north. I have no idea that that was a factor in his selection.” ”, said the official.
The official noted that Russian efforts in the south are now largely stalled, with no progress against Mariupol since last week and no success in advancing towards Mykolayiv.
“If Mr. Putin’s decision to pick Dvornikov was because he had some success, it wasn’t so much,” the official said.
New commander, same ‘depravity and brutality’
The official said it’s unclear how Dvornikov’s selection could affect the fight, but said the pattern of brutality remains a constant.
“What is clear is that the Russians continue to sink to new levels of depravity and brutality, as we saw with the missile attack on the train station last week,” the official said.
The death and destruction in Mariupol is also a cause for concern.
“We are all preparing for when the rest of the world can see what happens in Mariupol, what happened. I think we’re certainly setting ourselves up here for some potentially really horrible outcomes,” the official said.
Russians moving troops and supplies into Donbass
Some of the Russian units that withdrew from the area of northern Ukraine are beginning to move east toward the Russian cities of Belgorod and Valuyki. A long convoy of Russian vehicles begins heading south to Donbas from that area.
“We believe that this line of vehicles that we are talking about that are north of Izium came from the Belgorod/Valuyki region, from there to the south,” the official said.
Last week, the official said the Pentagon assessed that Russia would use that region to refit and resupply its battalion tactical groups (BTGs) that have been worn down by heavy fighting near kyiv and other areas of Ukraine. Some Russian units are too broken to fight.
“At least in the grouping we know of, it’s not an insignificant number of their BTGs that are ineffective in combat. And what does that mean? It means a lot of things. It can mean they don’t have the manpower they need to carry out a mission.” effectively, or it could be ammunition and supplies. It could be vehicles, depending on what the BTG does, they’re not all just infantry,” the official said.
The Pentagon believes the convoy is still north of Izyim and is an effort to bolster and resupply its forces in Donbas with command and control elements, armored vehicles, and possibly helicopter and infantry support.
Artillery is also part of the reinforcement effort.
“We have seen evidence that the Russians are starting to reinforce some of their positions southwest of Donetsk. They are doing it mainly with artillery units,” the official said.
Military aid arrives in Ukraine by air and land
Eight to 10 flights a day are bringing military supplies to the region, and “almost constant convoys on the ground” are sending material to Ukraine, the official said.
US intelligence helps Ukraine
In addition to providing support in the form of missiles, drones, and small arms, the US is also providing information to help Ukraine in the fight.
“We are providing good intelligence to the Ukrainians to help them in their self-defense,” the official said.
There is no evidence that Russia removed the Slovak S-300 system in Ukraine
While the Pentagon assesses the airport infrastructure damaged by Russia with an airstrike on Sunday, there is no indication that the S-300 surface-to-air systems have been destroyed, as Russia claims.
“We have no evidence to conclude that they destroyed an S-300 system and we have no evidence to conclude that it was in fact the Slovakian,” the official said.
Slovakia recently delivered its only S-300 battery to Ukraine.
US considers training more Ukrainians in new weapons
A small group of Ukrainian troops in the US for planned military training in the US when Russia invaded their country just returned home on Sunday. The Pentagon used their presence to train them on the Switchblade explosive drones that the United States is sending to help Ukraine. The official said Monday that the United States is looking to train more Ukrainians, possibly in the United States.
“It follows that the Ukrainians are busy right now and obviously they will want as many hands on deck there … to fight this war. But there hasn’t been any political decision that I know of that prevents them from coming.” to the United States,” the official said.
But the Pentagon is considering several possibilities.
“As for further training on systems like Switchblade, we are reviewing, thinking and considering a number of different options on how we could train more Ukrainians on that system,” the official said. “It’s a small number of systems, as you know, but it’s a new system that you’re not familiar with.”