The reorientation of Russian military efforts to concentrate forces in the Ukrainian region of the Donbass could lead to a “greater and more prolonged conflict”, as Ukrainian forces offer resistance in this region of the east of the country, said on Thursday (31) a high-ranking official in the United States Department of Defense.
The official recalled that there has been war in the region for eight years. Donbass brings together the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.
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The Ukrainians know the territory well, they still have many forces there, and they are fighting a tough fight for the area, according to this US government official.
Donbass — Photo: arte/g1
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The fact that the Russians are now prioritizing and deploying more troops and energy there does not mean it will be easy, he said.
This could be the harbinger of a more protracted conflict as the Russians try to gain some influence, make some progress and perhaps even get some leverage at the negotiating table, according to him.
Sergei Rudskoy, head of the General Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said last week that the first phase of the Ukraine campaign had been completed and that troops would focus on “the main goal: the liberation of Donbass”. where the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk were self-proclaimed.
The Pentagon official also said the Russian army was continuing to reposition forces around Kiev after failing in its attempt to conquer it. Customers are making decisions to alter their goals and objectives, he says.
Image shows destroyed car and buildings in Mariupol, Ukraine — Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
In addition, the official pointed out that fighting continues in the port city of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, and in Kharkiv, in the east, but the Russians are not achieving great results.
The Americans say they believe one of the reasons the Russians want Mariupol so much is because they can move north from there.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had decided to keep about 7,000 troops from the 82nd Paratrooper Division in Europe, along with the response group from the aircraft carrier Harry Truman.
“They’re not going anywhere for the immediate future,” Kirby declared. “We want to monitor the situation in the field and make the best decisions in real time.”
The United States has sent about 20,000 additional troops to Europe in the face of the threat of Russian invasion, with the aim of reassuring Ukraine’s neighboring allied countries, who feared the conflict would spill over into their territory.
The Pentagon spokesman added that, in the long term, the United States would consult with allies “to decide what would be the appropriate military posture in Europe. Whatever the outcome of this war and the date of its end, security in Europe will have changed and it will be necessary to respond”.