Lloyd Austin, the United States Secretary of Defense, said last week that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will be bruising for both sides, but he believes Kyiv has what it needs to succeed on the battlefield.
Austin met Thursday with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels, which includes 50 countries that have been pumping Ukraine with weapons since the February 2022 invasion.
Austin, who has sat on the board of arms giant Raytheon, said, “We will continue to provide Ukraine with the urgent capabilities that it needs to meet this moment, as well as what it needs to keep itself secure for the long term from Russian aggression.”
“Ukraine’s fight is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.
TRENDPOST: It is worth noting that comparing a brutal war to a foot race should be beneath the office of the secretary of state, but Austin has been making feckless comments throughout the war—perhaps the most damaging one in April 2022, when he said it was his hope that Russia emerges dramatically weakened.
If we’re going to use sports terms to describe WWIII, it’s worth noting that the Biden administration dropped the ball when it could have negotiated for a peaceful settlement before the war. (See “ZELENSKY SAID HE REFUSED TO HONOR MINSK PEACE ACCORD WITH RUSSIA” 14 Feb 2023, “MERKEL ADMITS THAT MINSK AGREEMENT WAS A RUSE, RUSSIA CALLS FOR TRIBUNAL” 13 Dec 2022, and “WARMONGER BLINKEN, NO TIME FOR PEACE” 6 Jun 2023.)
But Austin continues to ignore the recent history behind why Russia found Ukraine’s NATO membership an existential threat and blamed Putin’s “imperial ambitions” for causing “unimaginable suffering on the Ukrainian people.”
All Eyes on Russia
The Pentagon said it was the thirteenth time the group met. Austin asked the countries involved to continue to dig deep to provide Ukraine with the air-defense assets and munitions that it so urgently needs to protect its citizens.
Austin thanked the Netherlands and Denmark for training Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s, and Germany and Poland for providing Leopard 2 tanks.
The U.S. last week approved another package worth $2 billion under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and President Joe Biden also authorized another $325 million package which includes munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and dozens more Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Stryker armored personnel carriers, according to a statement from the Pentagon.
Volodymyr Havrylov, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, told The Wall Street Journal that Russia has been put on the defensive. He said his forces need long-range artillery capable of striking targets far behind the front line.
TRENDPOST: Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have been two of the chief propagandists in the West. (See “MILLEY: NOT STOPPING RUSSIA IN UKRAINE WOULD MEAN MASSIVE JUMP IN U.S. DEFENSE BUDGET” 25 Apr 2023, “IS IT GEN. MILLEY OR MINNIE MOUSE? MORE BS FROM TOP U.S. GENERAL” 21 Feb 2023, and “U.S. MILITARY HEAD MILLEY CHANGES HIS TUNE AFTER CRITICIZED FOR CALLING FOR KYIV TO NEGOTIATE, NOW SAYS RUSSIA LOST!” 22 Nov 2022.)
“Ukraine has begun their attack, and they are making steady progress,” Milley said, according to Stars & Stripes. “This is a very difficult fight. It’s a very violent fight. And it will likely take a considerable amount of time and (come) at a high cost.”
Milley said Ukrainian fighters have been making progress, but the main battle lines have not moved since the beginning of the counteroffensive.
The Asia Times reported that Ukrainian forces have met stiff resistance from Russians and have made some battlefield errors—which is to be expected because many of the Ukrainian troops are not professional fighters. Ukraine lost 38 tanks—including German-made Leopards—on 8 June after deploying them on minefields without first sweeping the territory with mine-clearing vehicles.
Austin spoke about equipment needs in Ukraine and Miley was asked about the status of F-16 fighters pushed by some countries in the West. Kyiv continues to say that its Achilles heel is the fact that Russia dominates the airspace.
Milley was asked if there was a specific date that Ukraine will be obtaining these aircraft, and he demurred.
“There’s a lot of work left to be done, but I think it would be premature to give a specific date on any time the F-16s or any other type of advanced aircraft would be employed in combat in Ukraine,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
Milley said the counteroffensive will be very long and “very violent.”
Milley confirmed that Western countries have trained some 60,000 Ukrainian troops since the first Russian tank rolled into Ukraine.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters last week that partners already know how many of the fourth-generation fighters are needed.
“I am very happy with the information I received from some countries,” he said. “I just had a day of happiness. It was a serious, powerful offer.”