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Russians haven’t made kind of progress in Donbas, south; meet stiff Ukrainian resistance – Pentagon

KYIV. May 5 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Russian troops have not made the desired progress in Donbas and southern Ukraine and have met stiff Ukrainian resistance at every step, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

"All I can tell you is that the Russians have not made the kind of progress in the Donbas and in the south that we believe they wanted to make. We do believe they’re behind schedule; we do believe it’s been slow. And at every turn, they have met a stiff Ukrainian resistance. What we’re focused on is making sure that that resistance remains as stiff as possible," Kirby said a briefing in Washington Wednesday.

He noted that the Pentagon believes there are several reasons for this. "And it varies from place to place but in general, we don’t believe they have solved their logistics and sustainment issues," the press secretary noted.

Kirby emphasized that the second important reason is the resistance of Ukrainians. "This is an area that they have been fighting now over – for eight years and the Ukrainians it’s their home. They know it. And they know where to be. And they know what to show up with, " he said.

According to the Pentagon spokesman, the weather also has an impact. "This is the ‘muddy’ season in Ukraine. This is a part of Ukraine that is flat, a lot of farmland. It’s been described to me a little bit like Kansas. And so, if you think about that, and at this time of year, in the spring there’s just a lot of rain and mud. And that also has served to slow the Russians down a little bit," Kirby thinks.

In addition, he drew attention to the fact that the Russians have not yet overcome the problems of leadership and unit cohesion that they faced before. "I mean, we still have anecdotal evidence, it’s anecdotal, I understand that, it’s not uniform; but anecdotal evidence of morale and cohesion problems inside many units. And leadership challenges, poor command and control that they haven’t solved. So we do see that they are trying and have tried to overcome some of those challenges but it is not at all clear that they have, " Pentagon press secretary said.

At the same time, Kirby added that the Russians have a lot of power left, a lot of firepower.

"They have a lot of force power left, a lot of firepower left to them. A lot of forces left to continue this fight. And that is why, and we’ve said all along, that this could be, end up being a prolonged battle in the Donbas, " he said.

Kirby said that’s why the USA is focused every day on making sure it can give the Ukrainians the tools and weapons they need, as well as the training that may be required with some of those tools to succeed.