The situation in Ukraine remains largely static, but there are bloody battles as Russian forces try to take Bakhmut and Ukrainian forces continue offensives against the Russian position near Kreminna, a senior defense official said speaking on background.
The official said the situation in those two areas remains fluid with a lot of back and forth. Still, the Ukrainians retain their hold on Bakhmut, he said.
The official detailed the results of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group held last week at Ramstein Air Base. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III convened the eighth version of the group, “which featured very productive discussions among senior defense leaders from nearly 50 allies and partner nations,” the official said.
At the end of the meeting on Friday, Austin was able to discuss the largest tally of donations since the inception of the Contact Group in April 2022. The official said this is a tangible demonstration of the solidarity against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The United States also announced a $2.5 billion assistance package for Ukraine that features more Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, Stryker armored personnel carriers, more ammunition and more missiles. “Multiple nations announced similar significant support to include Germany and Netherlands contributions of Patriot missile air defense capabilities, Canada’s procurement of a [National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System] and the United Kingdom’s donation of Challenger 2 tanks,” the official said.
The official highlighted Germany’s contribution of Marder infantry fighting vehicles. France is supplying AMX-10 light tanks and Sweden is donating CV90 infantry fighting vehicles and howitzers. Denmark and Estonia are also donating howitzers to the Ukrainian defense, and Latvia is supplying machine guns and unmanned aerial systems. Lithuania is donating helicopters and many European nations are also stepping forward to train the Ukrainian military on these new capabilities.
“The security assistance donations constitute a variety of lethal capabilities from a multitude of countries, which again underscores the international community’s continued support for Ukraine’s immediate needs on the battlefield,” the official said. “Secretary Austin said in his opening remarks at the Contact Group, Russia is attempting to regroup, recruit and reequip. So, this is not a moment to slow down when it comes to supporting Ukraine and their defense.”
Russia is sending in replacements for units that have been heavily attritted especially in the Bakhmut area, where the Russian military and its mercenaries have had particularly heavy casualties. “A key aspect is, despite these increased numbers in terms of replacements, reinforcements, there is not a significant enhancement in terms of the training of those forces,” the official said. “So again, ill-equipped, ill-trained, rushed to the battlefield.”
The official said that over the full scope of the battlefield, Russia has pushed “tens of thousands” of troops into the fight.
The official would not guess Russian casualties but did reiterate Army Gen. Mark A. Milley’s estimate of “well over 100,000 casualties” in the Russian forces since the war began in February 2022.