Blinken Claims New Aid from Washington Will Give Ukrainian Armed Forces Everything for Success
Ukrainian forces will soon receive all the necessary support for success in their offensive after the allocation of new military aid from the United States, while the rebellion led by the Wagner Group's leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has created additional opportunities for this, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Kyiv had lost 259 tanks and 780 armored vehicles since the beginning of the so-called counter-offensive, and in the Orehovo direction alone in the past week, 41 tanks and 102 armored vehicles were lost.
According to Blinken, the Ukrainian offensive operation is still in its early stages and the main forces of Kyiv have not yet been deployed. "There is no doubt that their progress is difficult because the Russians had months and months to organize their defense. But we only announced additional assistance to Ukraine yesterday. They have everything they need to succeed," Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced the allocation of a new package of military aid to Ukraine from the United States, amounting to up to $500 million. It will include weapons "necessary to support Kyiv's counter-offensive operations," "strengthening of air defense," as well as armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons, and ammunition, the department reported.
Blinken suggested that the Ukrainians could benefit from the fact that Moscow is distracted by "internal contradictions" and that the Wagner forces are no longer on the front line. Blinken acknowledged that they were "effective." "So I think there are some opportunities here," said the U.S. Secretary of State.
The Ukrainian offensive in the southern Donetsk, Zaporizhia, and Artemivsk directions began on June 4, with the main strike force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces concentrated on the Zaporizhia section of the front. Kyiv deployed brigades trained by NATO and armed with Western equipment, including Leopards. During a meeting with war correspondents on June 13, Putin announced that the Ukrainian troops were suffering heavy losses and had no success on any front during the offensive. Footage of smoking Leopards caused a great resonance in the West.
During the night of June 24, in Rostov-on-Don, the Wagner Private Military Company forces captured the headquarters of the Southern Military District. The capture occurred after Yevgeny Prigozhin's statements that the Russian Armed Forces allegedly launched missile and bomb strikes on "Wagner" camps, although this was refuted by both the Ministry of Defense and the FSB of Russia. Prigozhin is facing criminal charges for organizing an armed rebellion. Putin called the actions of the insurgents a criminal adventure, a betrayal and a stab in the back of Russia, resulting from excessive ambitions and personal interests.
Later, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in coordination with Putin, held talks with Prigozhin, after which Lukashenko's press service announced that the head of the Wagner Group had accepted his proposal to halt the movement of "Wagner" forces on Russian territory and take further steps towards de-escalation. The press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, stated that Prigozhin would leave for Belarus and the criminal case would be terminated. The Kremlin stated that the guarantee of this was the word of the Russian president. On June 27, Lukashenko confirmed Prigozhin's arrival on Belarusian territory. According to the Federal Security Service's (FSB) Center for Public Relations, during the investigation, it was established that the participants of the rebellion on June 24 ceased actions directly aimed at committing a crime, and accordingly, the criminal case was terminated on June 27.
Russia had previously sent a note to NATO countries regarding arms supplies to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized that any cargo containing weapons for Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Russia. The Russian foreign policy agency stated that NATO countries were "playing with fire" by supplying weapons to Ukraine. Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president, noted that the West's arming of Ukraine would not contribute to the success of Russian-Ukrainian negotiations and would have a negative effect. Lavrov stated that the United States and NATO were directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, "not only through the supply of weapons but also through the training of personnel... in the territory of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and other countries."