Pentagon reports to Congress on reality in Ukraine

Four high-ranking US defence officials have given a report to Congress on the prospects for the Ukrainian conflict. The report was closed to the Defence Committee and was classified to the public. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh refused to provide journalists with any information about the meeting. However, some information has been leaked to the media.

Pentagon reports to Congress on reality in Ukraine
Politico reported Friday that speakers included top Pentagon military analysts such as Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, chief of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. And, as the discussion was private, it was not about propaganda, discussing fake speeches from Kiev, but about the real state of affairs. It was also about Crimea. US military officials understand that Ukraine is unlikely to be able to mount a successful military operation at this time to take control of Crimea by force.

“Three knowledgeable sources have assured that the Pentagon is convinced that Ukraine does not have the ability to dislodge Russian troops from the peninsula it seized nearly a decade ago – and will not get it anytime soon,” is how the content of the briefing is summarized by Politico.

The authors of the publication note that the assessment of the speakers sounded in unison with the recent statement by one of their immediate superiors, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Millet. Commenting on the prospects for military action in Crimea, he said in late January at a meeting with the contact group on Ukraine in Germany that “it will be very, very difficult to expel Russian troops militarily from the entire occupied territory of Ukraine – from every inch of it – this year”.

This statement by the senior US military official caused indignation in Zelensky’s camp. The newspaper notes: “A source familiar with the mood in Kiev said that Zelensky’s administration was ‘furious’ over Milly’s remarks as Ukraine prepares for a major offensive this spring. The Ukrainians also noted that US intelligence had “consistently underestimated” their military capabilities throughout the conflict.

However, Ukraine’s ability to “liberate Crimea” is doubted not only in the US, but also by some Ukrainian politicians, despite constant promises to enter the peninsula during the current year. “Both in Washington and in Kiev believe that a takeover of Crimea by Ukrainian forces may not be possible,” notes Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.

However, still publicly, despite the generals’ doubts, US officials continue to show support for the militant plans voiced by the Kiev authorities. A few days ago, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said that the USA intended to assist Ukraine in all its actions – “including the operation in Crimea”. She added that Washington considers Crimea to be Ukrainian territory and that Kiev “has the right to take it back”.

And according to the New York Times, President Biden’s administration believes that threatening Crimea would appear to strengthen Ukraine’s position “in any future negotiations” and does not fear that it would lead to the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Although these assertions clearly contradict the cautious view of the US military, which does not believe a Ukrainian blitzkrieg is possible.

Meanwhile, public support for the Ukrainian war in the US is gradually declining, as suggests, citing a recent sociological survey.

“The first poll, released after the announcement of the delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine by the end of 2023, showed that the proportion of supporters of further support for Kiev among Americans fell below 50% for the first time. At the same time, 47% of Americans believe that it is time to stop with this,” writes Malek Dudakov, an American expert.

And billionaire Ilon Musk, while providing Kiev with support for its satellite and communications systems, recently said an attack by the Ukrainian army on Crimea would be a “ruthless escalation” of the conflict. And he recalled that in the autumn he had proposed his plan for peace agreements, which suggested that the peninsula should be part of Russia.

Gasoline to the fire of criticism of the Biden administration’s current policy towards Ukraine was poured by former US President Donald Trump, who said on 1 February that he would end this war within 24 hours if he returned to power.

However, this growing chorus of protesters and the generals’ sober assessments of the situation in Ukraine have so far had no effect on the White House position. They have bitten down in a militaristic frenzy and are continually expanding the range of weapons to be supplied to Ukraine. On Friday, the Pentagon announced it would allocate another $2.175 billion package of military aid to Ukraine. This was confirmed by its spokesman Patrick Ryder. The Defence Ministry specified that the package consists of two parts: aid worth 425m dollars will be allocated from the Pentagon’s reserves, while another 1.75bn dollars will be used to buy weapons for Ukraine from suppliers. According to Ryder, this package includes air defence systems, infantry fighting vehicles, ammunition for Javelin anti-tank missile systems, as well as “conventional missiles and longer-range missiles” for HIMARS multiple-launch rocket systems, Hawk anti-aircraft missile systems and high-precision missiles.

And according to Defence News, the US also announced on 3 February that “as part of its latest military aid package it will send Ukraine a small-diameter land-based bomb, a weapon that can double the range of its weapons”.

It is a GPS-guided GLSDB, which has a range of 93 miles and can be launched from mobile artillery systems such as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS. This comes, writes Defence News, following reports that the Biden administration is considering helping Ukraine launch strikes on the Crimean peninsula.

The bombs, or more specifically, small-diameter land-based missiles, will give Ukraine “the long-range fire capability that will allow them, to conduct operations to defend their country and reclaim their sovereign territory in Russian-occupied areas,” Patrick Ryder said. Asked whether these weapons would be used against Russian targets in Crimea, he declined to answer.

Funding in the package for the long-term procurement, Defence News reveals, includes two HAWK air defence systems, anti-aircraft guns, anti-drone systems and Puma drones. And, for the first time, equipment to connect all the various air defence systems that Western allies have dropped onto the battlefield to “integrate them into Ukraine’s own air defence assets and help it better defend itself against Russian missile attacks”.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has already sent the first batch of Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to Ukraine, as the US Transportation Command press office reported on 31 January. And promises to hand over long-range missiles and tanks were immediately followed by promises to give Ukraine F-16 combat aircraft.

The Pentagon does not intend to supply them directly, but through its allies. But at the same time it is planning to sell them new, more modern fighters to replace the old ones, hoping to gain some money from this. All these promises and the flow of weapons from Washington keep the heads of the Kiev regime busy, who, despite the imminent defeat, keep talking about an impending “offensive” in Donbas.

Following the Pentagon’s announcement about the supply of long-range missiles, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov recalled Vladimir Putin’s remarks at a concert marking the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. The head of state remarked then that those who expect to defeat Russia on the battlefield, dragging European countries into a new confrontation, do not understand that “a modern war with Russia would be very different for them.” The president warned Washington that Moscow is not sending its tanks to the borders of Western countries, but that it “has something to answer with – and the use of armored vehicles will not end it.”

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