PRAGUE – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Ukrainian forces are showing signs of battlefield success in two counterattacks, adding that the United States will support Kyiv in its fight against invading Russian forces “as long as there is a need.”
Austin’s comments in Prague on September 9 follow mounting evidence that Ukrainian forces have made advances in the southern Kherson region and in areas east and southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
While Kherson has been the focus of major fighting for two weeks now, the push from Kharkiv has unfolded over the past two days, seemingly at lightning speed.
“We see success in Kherson now,” Austin told reporters in Prague after meeting his Czech counterpart Jana Sernochova.
“We are seeing some success in Kharkiv and that is very encouraging,” he added.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video address on September 8, claimed that Ukrainian forces had “liberated dozens of settlements” and recovered more than 1,000 square kilometers from Russian forces in the past week.
The Ukrainian General Staff, meanwhile, claimed The troops advanced 50 km east and southeast of Kharkiv in three days.
Austin praised the fighting capabilities of the Ukrainian forces, saying, “We were all moved by what we saw. Their willingness to stand up to a much larger and stronger force, and to be effective in their efforts. So we were inspired by their courage and commitment.”
“You’ve heard [U.S.] president [Joe] Biden says, and you’ve heard me say many times, we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Russian officials have said nothing about the Ukrainian fronts or successes, although for days pro-Russian military bloggers have been documenting significant movements in the battle lines in both places.
But on September 9, the Russia-designated administrative official for the occupied Kharkiv regions told Rossia-24 TV that Ukraine had achieved a “fundamental victory” in the eastern region.
“The situation is now rather dangerous,” said Vitaly Ganchev. “The fact that there has been a breach of our defenses is already a major victory for the Ukrainian armed forces.”
Watch; Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in Prague on September 9 that US support for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion would continue “as long as it takes.” Appearing alongside Czech Defense Minister Jana Sernochova, Austin praised the recent progress Ukrainian forces had made in all of Kherson. and Kharkiv.
After midday on September 9, a Russian missile hit central Kharkiv, injuring at least 10 people, the regional official, Oleh Sinihopov, said in a telegram message.
The president’s chief of staff, Andrei Yermak, said the attacks were likely in retaliation for Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.
“For every success of the Ukrainian armed forces, for every victory, the Russians respond with blows to the innocent,” he says. wrote on TelegramHe stressed that among the wounded were children.
On September 8, US officials announced another $675 million arms package for Ukraine, along with a $2 billion pledge made on the same day to bolster security across Europe. This brings the total amount of US military supplies sent to Kyiv since the Russian invasion on February 24 to more than $15.2 billion.
If the two counter-attacks by Ukraine are sustained and significant, they could increase doubts about Russian combat power and manpower, as well as the tactics of Russian leaders.
They will also add questions to the Kremlin’s ultimate goals for invasion, which appear to have already changed several times over the past seven months.
Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin, speaking at an economic forum, showed no indication that the Russian authorities were considering slowing down the fighting or reducing their losses in Ukraine.
“We have nothing to lose and nothing to lose,” he said at the forum in Vladivostok.
American and Western officials estimate that Russia has recorded as many as 80,000 casualties since the invasion, with at least a quarter of that number killed in battle. The latest official death toll from the Russian Defense Ministry stood at 1,351 as of the end of March.
During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels on September 9, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken appeared to berate Putin, noting that he was sacrificing Russian lives by prolonging the fighting.
“There are a huge number of Russian troops in Ukraine, and unfortunately, tragically and appallingly, President Putin has shown that he is going to throw a lot of people into this at great cost to Russia, and at great cost to its future,” Blinken said. .