The US wants to see “Russia weakened” so it cannot pursue any further hostile military expansion, US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin has said.
Austin said Russia has “already lost … a lot of its troops” during the war and that Vladimir Putin has “failed” in his attempted invasion of Ukraine.
Austin’s strong statement came after a visit to Kyiv, alongside secretary of state Antony Blinken, to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today.
The pair announced that US diplomats will return to Kyiv, while also pledging a further $322m in military funding for the Ukrainian armed forces.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin said.
“So it has already lost a lot of military capability. And a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.”
Blinken added: “In terms of Russia’s war aims, Russia has already failed and Ukraine has already succeeded.”
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace also pledged a further £100m in military aid for Ukraine today.
He told the House of Commons that Russia has lost around 15,000 troops in just two months of fighting in Ukraine, which is more than three-times the amount America lost in eight years during the Iraq war.
Putin launched a new offensive in the Donbas earlier this month in a bid to take the entire region, which has been the site of an eight-year long war between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists.
The Ministry of Defence said yesterday that Ukraine’s forces have “repelled numerous Russian assaults along the line of contact in the Donbas this week”.
Wallace said that Ukraine was “an inspiration to us all” after they had “beaten back the army of Russia in the North and the North East”.
“We anticipate this next phase of the invasion will be an attempt by Russia to occupy further the Donbas and connect via Mariupol the Crimea,” he said.
“So it is urgent we in the international community ensure Ukraine gets the aid and weapons it so much needs.”