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Ukraine Holding Its Own Against Major World Military Power, U.S. Official Says

The Russians are making "slow and uneven advances" through northern Donetsk, a senior military official said speaking on background today. 

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused hard and brutal fighting, but the Ukrainians are making the Russians pay for every foot of territory they are taking.  

What we have found is that Ukrainians are possessing a will and spirit that a good portion of folks just did not take into account."
Senior military official

There are news reports that the Russians have paused their offensive, but the official did not confirm that. "I've got to think that if … I took the number of casualties that the Russians took to gain that portion of ground, I'd probably have to stop and refit," he said.  

The Ukrainians have given up ground to a much larger foe, but they have moved into better defensive positions. In this type of warfare, the advantage is with the defense, he said. 

This is not a "rosy" description of the Russian-Ukraine war. There have been many pundits lately who see the Russians advancing slowly in Donetsk and they have accused officials of being too optimistic about Ukraine's chances. 

A foreign service member speaks to a woman wearing a jacket while several other domestic and foreign service members look on.
Answering Questions
Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine's 1st Sgt. Steven Molina, a senior noncommissioned officer with the Brigade Training Group, answers questions from a Ukrainian army logistics officer after a military decision-making process class session, January 2022. The JMTG-U mission continues to advance and assist the scope and capability of our Ukrainian Partner’s OCTs, who all have extensive experience and continue to grow their knowledge and expert teaching capabilities.
Photo By: Sgt. Spencer Rhodes
VIRIN: 211130-Z-A4447-003R

"If you're going to describe assessments as 'rosy,' … I can recall, at the beginning of this thing as the Russians put 100-plus [battalion tactical groups] around Ukraine, the thinking was that the Russians were going to move pretty quickly," he said. "That wasn't 'rosy,' and it was wrong.  

"What we have found is that Ukrainians are possessing a will and spirit that a good portion of folks just did not take into account," the official continued.  

The fighting has been intense and the Russians have gained about five miles, he said, and every foot has been contested in blood. "If you're Ukrainian, and … you're giving up any bit of ground, that has an impact to you," he said. "And if you're losing a man or a woman next to you, that has an impact [on] you, there's not a rosy way to address that."  

But overall, the Ukrainians are going toe-to-toe with one of the larger military powers of the world. "This small country, that didn't have an enormous army beforehand, but this one small country has been able to hold this [Russia] at bay in many cases and give up very little ground," he said.  

"I don't want to appear overly optimistic here, but history is full of examples of small countries like this, who display their will and are able to hold their own," he said. "We celebrated one of them last Monday [July 4]. And I'd like to think the Ukrainians were demonstrating the same to the rest of the world, right now."

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