(Washington) A senior Pentagon official said Friday that the Russian offensive in Donbass, which is progressing “slowly and unevenly” due to opposition from the Ukrainian military, has been delayed.
Released at 9:24 p.m.
Updated at 12:49 p.m.
“We believe they are lagging behind what they expected to achieve in Donbass,” the senior official told reporters anonymously.
“They were at least several days late,” he said. One of the objectives of the Russian army is to capture Ukrainian troops from the Kharkiv region (east), troops entering north of Donbass and “far from the junction” of those coming from the south of the country. Stopped in the front line around the separatist areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“They didn’t move very fast,” he said. “The maximum they can do is because they were repulsed a few kilometers a day” by the Ukrainian military.
Although the fighting has begun, “we hope it continues to create the conditions for a sustained, large and long attack,” a senior U.S. defense official said.
He explained that Russian forces “did not want to make the same mistakes as in Kiev”, where columns of tanks were pinned by Ukrainian forces armed with shoulder-mounted missiles and received logistical support from a distance.
“As the Ukrainians continue to resist, their artillery and airstrikes on Ukrainian forces have not had the desired effect,” he said. “That is why we believe their progress has been slow and steady over the past 24 hours.”
The Pentagon on Friday warned that U.S. citizens could not enter the deadly conflict, according to family members who killed an American man who was fighting in Ukraine against Russian forces.
Willie Joseph Cancel, 22, who was allegedly killed on Monday, arrived in Ukraine in mid-March, his mother Rebecca Cabrera told CNN.
“We continue to urge Americans not to go to Ukraine,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on CNN, prompting “shocking” news and support for the families of those killed.
“It’s a war zone, […] This is not the place for Americans to go, “said David Cook, chief of The Christian Science Monitor’s Washington bureau.
“He wanted to go there because he believed in what Ukraine was fighting for and he wanted to be a part of it to control (the threat) and prevent it from coming here,” Rebecca Cabrera said of her son.
American newspapers report that the young man left behind a wife and a 7-month-old baby. His wife, Brittany Cancel, confirmed his death in a statement to several American media outlets, calling her husband a “hero”.
Former Marine, he joined a private paramilitary organization and volunteered to join Ukraine.
A British Foreign Office spokesman confirmed on Thursday that a British citizen had been killed and another missing in Ukraine.
According to the British media, the two were fighting with the Ukrainian army as volunteers.
Shortly after Russia invaded his country on February 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky called for the creation of an “international brigade” of foreign volunteers to assist him in defending Ukraine.
In early March, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba noted that about 20,000 foreign volunteers had joined the war inside the country.