US warns Russia will increase military activity in Ukraine

American officials say Vladimir Putin’s forces have been defeated at Kyiv, but he has not yet completed his invasion.

Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | beautiful pictures

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Monday warned that Russian forces are expected to increase their military operations in Ukraine after weeks of stalled ground progress.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House: “When Russia started this war, their initial goal was to take the capital of Kyiv, replace the Zelensky government, and take control of the rest of the country. large, if not all of Ukraine”. that it can accomplish these goals quickly and efficiently. “

He said American officials believe the Kremlin is now rethinking its goals in the war. “Russia is redeploying its forces to focus offensive operations in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, rather than targeting most of the territory,” Sullivan said. said the army had failed to capture Kyiv.

Over the past five weeks, Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine have been plagued with logistical problems on the battlefield, including reports of fuel and food shortages.

“Every indication is that Russia will seek to encircle and overwhelm Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine,” said Mr. “We anticipate that Russian commanders are currently carrying out a redeployment from northern Ukraine to the area around the Donbas.”

He added that Russia’s new ground offensive in eastern Ukraine will likely also “include air strikes and missiles across the rest of the country to cause economic and military damage, and frankly, terrorism.”

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a residential building destroyed by shelling, as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, at the Borodyanka settlement in Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022. Taken by drone.

Maksim Levin | Reuters

A senior US Defense Department official, who asked not to be named, detailed the Pentagon’s thinking, saying that the Kremlin has moved about 65% of its forces near Kyiv to Belarus.

The official said the Pentagon believes these Russian troops are being re-trained in Belarus before redeploying to the war in Ukraine. When asked where the troops were likely to go, the official said the Pentagon believes the majority of them will move to the Donbas area.

The official added that the United States believes that “the vast majority” of Russian forces are still in Ukraine and that Kyiv is still under threat.

Late Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby gave no specifics around how the United States expects Russian forces to reorganize.

“We don’t believe this is a complete retreat from the war effort. These people aren’t going home, I guess that’s the point,” Kirby said, adding that the Pentagon “couldn’t have been predictable. exactly their way”. will reform their units. “

When pressed, Sullivan offered no timeline for how long the United States expected the war to last.

“It might not just be a matter of a few more weeks,” said Sullivan. “This next period can be measured in months or so,” he added.

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