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Tough Fighting in Donbas as Biden Asks for More Aid to Ukraine

Tough fighting continues in the Donbas region of Ukraine with 92 Russian battalion tactical groups now operating in the area, a senior defense official said today.

The official also said that some Russian troops are moving out of Mariupol to the northwest even though fighting continues in the Black Sea port.

"We can report that there's been more than 1,900 missile launches since the beginning of the invasion," the official said, citing most of the strikes having been in Mariupol and the Donbas region.

A military service member adjusts a strap on a pallet of equipment.
Securing a Pallet
U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Rafael DeGuzman-Paniagua, 305th Aerial Port Squadron special handling representative, secures a pallet of equipment bound for Ukraine from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., March 24, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Joseph Morales
VIRIN: 220324-F-QU646-1042M

The official said Russian progress is "slow and uneven," with Ukrainian troops making gains in some areas while Russian forces make gains in others.

The Russian military has not overcome their problems with logistics and sustainment that plagued them on their strike toward Ukraine's capital of Kyiv in February and March, the official said. In addition, due to the effective resistance from Ukrainian forces, the Russians are fearful of outrunning their supply lines.

"Just from logistics alone, they're only able to sustain several-kilometers-or-so progress on any given day ... because they don't want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines," he said.

The brief on the situation in Ukraine comes as President Joe Biden sent another aid package to Congress. Overall, the package comes to $30 billion, with $20.4 billion of that amount in additional security and military assistance for Ukraine and for American efforts to strengthen European security. This is being done in full consultation with NATO allies and partner nations concerned over Russia's unprovoked war.

The package would include $5 billion in additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $4 billion for the State Department’s foreign military financing program.

An aerial view of the Pentagon.
Aerial View
An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 11, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210512-D-BM568-1287R

"The assistance includes funds that will allow us to ensure Ukraine has the weapons it needs to wage this fight, replenish our own stockpiles of key systems, help other countries to shift away from a dependence on Russian weapons, enable Ukraine's government to continue performing basic functions, address food insecurity exacerbated by Russia's war of aggression, and support Ukrainian refugees and the countries that are providing them sanctuary," said an administration official speaking on background from the White House.

The funds will provide Ukrainians with an additional and uninterrupted flow of artillery, armored vehicles, anti-armor and anti-air capabilities.

The package will also forge a stronger NATO security posture through support for U.S. troop deployments on NATO territory, including transportation of personnel and equipment, temporary duty, special pay, airlift, weapons system sustainment and medical support, officials said.

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