Russia’s “newly mobilized conscripts likely have minimal training or no training at all,” Britain’s defense ministry said Saturday in its intelligence update.
The report said that “Russia is probably struggling to provide military training for its current mobilization drive and its annual autumn conscription intake. The Russian Armed Forces were already stretched providing training for the approximate 300,000 troops required for its partial mobilization, announced in September.
“These issues,” the ministry said, “will be compounded by the additional regular autumn annual conscription cycle” that begins in November for about 120,000 conscripts.
Russia has resorted to training troops in Belarus, the ministry said, “due to a shortage of training staff, munitions and facilities in Russa.” The intelligence update said, “Deploying forces with little or no training provides little additional offensive combat capability.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. is providing about $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine as the fight against Russia’s invasion enters its ninth month.
The Defense Department said in a statement that the latest package “underscores the continued U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine by meeting their most urgent needs, while also building the capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its sovereignty over the long term.”
The U.S. now has committed more than $18.2 billion to Ukraine since the beginning “of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion February 24,” the statement read.
The U.S. military assistance includes refurbishing HAWK air defense missiles, funding for 45 refurbished T-72B Tanks with advanced optics, communications, and armor packages, 1,100 Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aerial systems, 40 armored riverine command boats, funding to refurbish 250 M1117 armored security vehicles, as well as tactical secure communications systems and surveillance systems, along with funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.
In his nightly address Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for its latest military assistance and said it is the armored vehicles in particular that “we very much need to move forward at the front.”
“I am grateful to President Biden, the U.S. Congress and the entire American people for the continued and vital assistance,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, said during a visit to Kyiv that U.S. support for Ukraine would remain “unwavering and unflinching” following next Tuesday’s midterm congressional elections.
“We fully intend to ensure that the resources are there as necessary, and that we’ll get votes from both sides of the aisle to make that happen,” Sullivan told reporters during a briefing at the Ukrainian presidential administration.
Some Republicans have indicated they would try to scale back U.S. aid to Kyiv if they win control of the U.S. Congress in Tuesday’s elections. Last month, Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the U.S. House, said Americans should not “write a blank check” for Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands said it would spend nearly $45 million on T-72 tanks, as it cooperates with the U.S. and the Czech Republic on a shipment of 90 modernized Czech tanks. Ukraine also received the first batch of BMP-1 armored vehicles from Greece. Zelenskyy thanked Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou for the aid.
In a tweet, the Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, thanked the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the U.S. for their joint decision to provide 90 T-72 tanks to Ukraine.
In an interview Friday with VOA White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara, John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesperson, said the U.S. “is working in lockstep with the Ukrainians.” He said officials in Washington and Kyiv talk almost daily about Ukraine’s military capabilities, what is needed and what the Washington can provide for them.
Kirby said the U.S. is looking at providing more advanced capabilities to help Ukraine knock down the drones and cruise missiles the Russians are firing on civilian infrastructure.
“We are also working with allies and partners of some 40 other countries [who] are contributing security assistance to Ukraine. France, Spain, Germany have been real big contributors with respect to providing some additional air defense capabilities,” Kirby added.
Kirby also told VOA it is encouraging to hear that Russians do not want a nuclear exchange.
“We hope that they actually mean that, because we agree that a nuclear war should never be fought. It certainly can’t be won,” he said. But, he added, Washington is “judging them” not by what they are saying but by what they are doing on the ground.
He was referring to Putin’s mobilization of more than 300,000 reserves and Moscow’s “sham referendum” in Ukraine to politically annex ground it could not occupy militarily, as well as to Russia seeking help from countries like Iran and North Korea.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin signaled it is withdrawing from Kherson, a region strategic for Russia’s for westward expansion. The Russian flag has been removed from Kherson’s city council.
Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly endorsed the evacuation of civilians from parts of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Friday, the latest sign of Russia’s retreat in one of the most bitterly contested areas in Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Russian-installed officials in Kherson have evacuated tens of thousands of civilians from the city and surrounding areas while pro-Kremlin media members have reported that withdrawing Russian troops carried away bronze statues of 18th-century Russian commanders and have moved their headquarters 80 kilometers to the southeast.