Ukrainian counter-offensive had ‘some success’ – Pentagon
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has cautiously cheered battlefront developments after Ukraine said it had made advances during a counter-offensive in its southern and eastern regions. Russian officials on the ground acknowledged some setbacks but said Ukrainian forces were suffering “colossal” casualties.
"We see success in Kherson now, we see some success in Kharkov and so that is very, very encouraging," Austin told reporters on Friday during a press conference in Prague.
Kiev claimed to have taken more than 700 square kilometers of territory in the Kharkov Region, advancing up to 50km into Russian-held territory and taking “more than 20 villages,” Reuters reported citing a Ukrainian general whom it did not name.
Reports from the area confirmed heavy fighting around the city of Balakleya and west of Kupyansk, with civilians fleeing eastward to Russia. However, local officials say the Russian reinforcements are turning the tide.
“The Ukrainian armed forces have pulled up all their reserves and now they are trying to claim victory on the corpses of their soldiers. They have colossal losses, in the thousands. They literally throw people into battle to be slaughtered,” military-civilian administration head Vitaly Ganchev told Russia-24 TV on Friday.
Meanwhile, on the Kherson front, Ukrainian forces “made several unsuccessful attempts to attack” but “retreated after taking losses” of more than 270 men, three tanks and 11 armored vehicles, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
Austin is in Europe to coordinate further deliveries of weapons and equipment to Ukraine. At the meeting of Kiev’s arms suppliers in Ramstein, Germany on Thursday, he announced the US would be delivering to Ukraine some $675 million worth of ammunition, along with armored cars and four howitzers. The US has given Ukraine more than $17 billion in military aid since the 2014 coup, and another $14.5 billion since the conflict escalated in February.