Pentagon: The Ukrainian counterattack is slower than expected and is still in the testing phase

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A senior official at the US Department of Defense (Pentagon) said on Friday, that the Ukrainian counterattack on Russian forces is proceeding at a slower pace than expected, but it’s still too early to draw conclusions about the possibilities of Kiev achieving gains on the battlefield.

The United States and other allies have spent months building a so-called “Mountain of Steel” in Ukraine and training Ukrainian forces in combined arms techniques to help Kiev penetrate Russia’s formidable defenses during its counteroffensive.

On the other hand, Russia also spent months digging defensive positions, laying land mines around them and constructing heavily armed fortifications that made Ukraine’s progress in the east and south slow and bloody.

“It is too early to judge the course of the counterattack,” Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, told reporters.

“They’re still testing Russian lines and Russian regions for vulnerabilities,” Kahl added.

“The real test will be when they identify these points, and how quickly they can exploit those vulnerabilities”.

Kahl’s comments came as he announced the provision of cluster munitions that the Pentagon hopes will help ensure Ukraine has sufficient firepower.

“We want to make sure that the Ukrainians have enough artillery to keep them fighting in the context of the current counter-offensive, and because things are going a little slower than some had hoped,” he said.

Some US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, expressed optimism that Kiev has all the weapons it needs, including mine-clearing devices and minesweepers.

Ukraine may also have a unique opportunity following last month’s armed rebellion by Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the private military group Wagner, which US officials say exposed the devastating, effects of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that Prigozhin was still in his country, along with thousands of Wagner fighters.

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