Russia preparing ‘larger assault’ in Ukraine – White House

Russia preparing ‘larger assault’ in Ukraine – White House

The US is sending another $400 million worth of weapons to help Kiev hold off Moscow’s possible push on Kharkov

White House national security adviser John Kirby has said that Russian forces could be preparing a full-on assault on Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkov, after Kiev accused Moscow of renewing its military push in the region.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry and President Vladimir Zelensky claimed on Friday that Russia has launched a new large-scale offensive, attacking several positions along Russia’s border with Kharkov Region. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters later in the day that Washington is concerned that Moscow was preparing ground for a larger push.

“It is certainly possible that the Russians are setting themselves up for a larger assault on Kharkov,” Kirby said at a virtual press briefing. “You’re not going to do that if you’re not also thinking about some other larger assault directly on the city.” 

Moscow has not provided any information on its purported activities near Kharkov, besides reporting the capture of two villages at the region’s border with Russia’s Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).

Over the past few months, Ukrainian forces used Kharkov as a springboard to launch indiscriminate drone, artillery and missile attacks on Russian border regions, primarily Belgorod, and to stage multiple unsuccessful attempts to break through the border.

On Friday, the US announced yet another $400 million military aid package, the third in recent weeks. Washington also approved an emergency sale of three HIMARS systems worth an estimated $30 million, which would be funded by Germany.

While the US has recently approved a long-awaited $61 billion aid package for Ukraine last month, officials in Kiev told the Financial Times it would only “help to slow down the Russian advance, but not stop it.”

Moscow has said that the new weapons deliveries would not succeed in turning the tide of the conflict. According to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Russian forces are in full control of the battlefield situation and are steadily advancing. Throughout April, Ukrainian forces lost around 1,000 soldiers per day on average, the minister said earlier this month, estimating Kiev’s military losses at 111,000 this year alone.

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