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Defense Official Says Russia Hasn't Gained Superiority Over Ukraine

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With little change in operations from yesterday, the Russians have still not gained superiority over the entirety of Ukraine, a senior Defense Department official said today. 

On day 14 of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, DOD officials have noted more than 710 missile launches of all varieties, nearly evenly split from being launched inside Ukraine and from Russia, the official said.  

"We do believe that around Kharkiv, [the Russians] are reassessed to be just outside the city now. They appear to have gained about 20 km worth of distance. [There is] still heavy, heavy fighting there. We don't assess that they've taken the city by any means, but they have closed in on it," he said.  

"The same can be said a little bit about Mykolayiv, down in the south [of Ukraine]. We didn't see them over the last 24 hours advance farther to the north of Mykolayiv, and we estimate they're about 15 km away, but to the north of Mykolayiv. And they have increased their shelling of the city."  

Two service members examine a weapon; a helicopter and other service members are in the background.
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A paratrooper assigned to the Troop B, 5-73 Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division trains a Polish soldier during a combined training event in Nowa Deba, Poland, Feb. 22, 2022. The 82nd Airborne Division is currently deployed to Poland to train with and operate alongside our Polish allies. The training allows allies to get to know each other’s equipment, capabilities and tactics to enhance readiness and strengthen the NATO alliance.
Photo By: Army Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett
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DOD continues to consult with its Polish counterparts, the official said, and referred to a department spokesman's statement from last night. In part, the statement said:  

"We are now in contact with the Polish government .... the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government. We will continue consulting with our allies and partners about our ongoing security assistance to Ukraine because, in fact, Poland's proposal shows just some of the complexities this issue presents. The prospect of fighter jets 'at the disposal of the government of the United States of America' departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance. It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland's proposal is a tenable one."  

"We believe we are working very hard to get the Ukrainians the capabilities they need, and that they are using with great effect. That's what our focus is on," the DOD official said. "They do have fixed-wing aircraft available to them; the majority of their fleet is still intact and operable. As I said, the airspace is contested [and] … the Russians have surface-to-air missile umbrellas that virtually cover the whole country."

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