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Senior Defense Official Holds a Background Briefing, April 28, 2022

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, good morning, everybody.

I'm going to try to quick through this because I've got some commitments I've got to do in just a little bit, so I'll try to keep this as brief as I can. But they're -- it's been a long time since we did want one of these, so I do have some stuff I want to get through.

We are now on day 63, and on day 63 we can report that there's been more than 1,900 missile launches since the beginning of the invasion. Most of the missile launches and, quite frankly, fixed-wing strikes on Ukraine continue to be happening in Mariupol and in the Joint Force operation area, basically, the Donbas region. That's really where the preponderance of strike activity continues to occur.

Also on day 63, we can report that there are now 92 operational battalion tactical groups from the Russians inside Ukraine, so an increase over the last time you and I had a chance to talk. We would assess that Russian forces are making slow and uneven and, frankly, we would describe it as incremental progress in the Donbas. Some advances east of Izyum and to the south a little bit, but there has been continued pushback by the Ukrainians since, so there's a lot of, still, back-and-forth in the Donbas in terms of territory gained and/or lost by, frankly, both sides. So not a huge difference in the picture on the ground in the Donbas.

The Russians have not overcome all their logistics and sustainment challenges, and we assess that they're only able -- because they still haven't solved all their logistics problems -- just from a logistics perspective alone, not counting the Ukrainian resistance, which remains active, but just from logistics alone, they're only able to sustain several kilometers or so progress on any given day, just because they don't want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines. So they're limited not only, again, by the fighting and by Ukrainian resistance, but by their still-continued logistics problems.

Let's see -- in the south we can report that we have seen Russian forces departing the Mariupol area and moving to the northwest, sort of in the direction of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. That doesn't mean that we assess that they have Mariupol. As I've said earlier, they are continuing to pound Mariupol with strikes, both airstrikes and missile strikes. You don't do that if you think it belongs to you. But they are moving forces now to the northwest. I couldn't give you an estimate, guys, on, like, how many that is and how far they've gotten. We're just picking up these indications, and I wanted to make sure that, you know, I let you know that. But I'm not able to quantify that. We're just beginning to see them now move some of their forces away from Mariupol and head up towards the northwest.

Let's see. In the maritime domain, the Black Sea fleet combatant ships, warships still remain really off the western coast of Crimea, along with some of their LSTs, their tank landing ships, sort of demonstrating their ability off the coast, but not really doing a whole lot. We think that that's partly because of, they're wary of their own safety, but also a bit of a show of force to potentially try to convince Ukrainian forces that they need to stay near Mykolayiv and Odesa. Again, we've we've talked about this before. The demonstrating against Odesa could be an effort to tie down, to pin down Ukrainian forces so that they can't move further to the northeast. Again, we don't know that for sure. We're not inside the Russian planners' minds, but we think they -- what Black Sea activity there is is really meant as a show of force. We're not seeing anything demonstrative from a naval perspective that they're planning on an amphibious assault on Odesa or getting closer to the coast, and, in fact, quite the contrary.

I would like to, just on the -- that's kind of it for operational updates. Let me just make sure before I move on that I didn't forget anything. No, I think that's it.

Just on the issue of security assistance, we would now assess that more than 60 percent of the M777 howitzers that were committed in both PDA 7 and 8, so of the 90, have now been transferred to the Ukrainian military in just the last week. And yesterday, the Pentagon press secretary said it was more than 50, and we would say more than 60 percent now have been transferred to Ukraine. The first group of trainers are back in Ukraine. The second group of trainers is now undergoing their training.

It began -- let me just make sure I think I got this right.

Yeah, the second course with more than 50 Ukrainian military commenced their six-day training evolution yesterday. So this is day two for that second tranche.

And there is additional training going on outside of Ukraine on the Q-64 mobile radar system that we announced in PDA-7. There's some training going on there. That'll be about a week -- again, it's being held outside of Ukraine and there's some training that started yesterday, as well, five day training for more than 50 Ukrainian soldiers on the M113, the armored personnel carrier, just to make sure they're familiar with how to use that -- with that system.

So training continues. As we said, you know, it would include howitzers but we also talked about the fact that they would need some familiarization on the radar system. That has started. And on the M113, we also said that would require some training, and that has started. And we'll continue to look at what the iterations need to be on that going forward.

Again, it's outside of Ukraine, small numbers of Ukrainian trainers that will go in and train their colleagues, but it is happening. And I'm not going to detail what country and the locations of where it -- this training is happening. That is for those countries to speak to, if they choose.

And I'm not going to detail how many and who the trainers are. Yes, the United States is participating in some of this training, of course we are, but we're not the only ones, and again, I'm not going to speak for every other country.

On the -- no, I've already kind of covered the howitzers, that 60 percent of them are basically in there. But other things continue to flow, including -- including the 155 artillery rounds. You know, they continue to flow into Ukraine and it's a mix of, you know, some from PDA-7, some from PDA-8.

So I think with that, I think we can start taking questions. And again, I'm going to try to clip through this -- we don't have Bob or Lita on the line today, so we'll start with Barbara. Go ahead.

Q: Can you just dive a little deeper into the fighting in the east and the south? A couple of things. You say 92 ‘operational’ BTGs. In your view, what does that mean when you call them "operational"? Are they fully formed? Are they on the move? Are you beginning to see more coordinated, or coordinated at all, air-ground operations that you hadn't seen before? Is there evidence, even though they're still having sustainment, that they are learning? What is the evidence they're learning the lessons of the first phase? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Barb, when we say "operational," we mean that by -- at least by Russian definition -- and we don't -- again, we don't have the metrics that they use to gauge readiness but when we say "operational," we mean these are battalion tactical groups that are are capable of being reinserted into combat.

We can't detail every single one of those 92 and what their readiness is. As they are engaged in the fight, they are taking losses, they are suffering casualties, and so the readiness of these BTGs will change over time.

But what we're saying is that these are 92 functional battalion tactical groups. Again, every battalion tactical group is different, they don't all have the same purpose. We believe that -- that's how we're counting it. "Operational" means they can function in a combat environment.

How well they function in a combat environment is, of course, -- that's a larger, deeper question that gets to leadership and unit cohesion and morale and logistics and sustainment, and that will change over time, depending on where these guys are inserted and what kind of fighting they're seeing.

We continue to see signs that they are trying to improve some of the challenges that they've had previously in the war -- so that they are trying to better integrate air-to-ground operations in the Donbas, but we do not assess that they've fixed all of their problems. Their coordination is still hampered by command and control, which is not optimal yet.

We definitely see the most demonstrative thing we've seen is their attempt to improve logistics and sustainment. I mean, that's pretty much the most obvious thing that we're seeing them trying to learn from.

It started before these operations in the Donbas really kicked up, when they moved in command and control enablers and communication enablers and rotary wing support and artillery, all pre-staged into the Donbas for the troops to fall in on and to be able to utilize, but we still assess that they have not fixed all of those logistics problems.

And we can see that at least one reason why they aren't making a lot of progress -- not the only reason but one reason -- is that they are still wary of of getting out ahead of their supply lines and getting too far out ahead, like they did north of Kyiv, when they literally just sprinted to Kyiv and then didn't have the backup, didn't have the fuel, didn't have the food, didn't have the spare parts to keep them there. They don't want to make that same mistake.

Now, I I want to stress that the Donbas is a different terrain altogether and their focus now geographically is smaller and more contained in an open environment. So they -- just by nature of the ground, they have some advantages that they didn't have north of Kyiv.

I will also add that, talking about ground, as we head into spring here, you know, we know that the weather and the ground conditions -- and I mean literally the ground conditions -- are going to be an increasing factor.

It's -- you know, as it starts to rain more and there's more mud, it will force them to be ever more reliant on paved roads and paved highways and that -- that we would expect that some of their progress will be slowed by -- frankly, by mud and by weather conditions.

So I don't know if that answered your question but that's where we are.

Q: Thank you -- thank you very much.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yep. Heather from USNI?

Q: Thank you so much for taking my question. In terms of the Russian Black Fleet staying farther away from Ukraine. What does this do to the Russians' plan for some of the southern border?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, it's a difficult question to answer, Heather, because again, we don't have visibility into their planning assumptions. They still have -- I mean, let's remember now that certainly they have a presence in Crimea and they have now a presence in the south of Ukraine. It's uneven, to be sure, but they have a presence there, Melitopol and Berdyansk, up near Zaporizhzhya, and out towards Kherson.

And largely, we assess that, you know, while there's still activity in Kherson -- I mean, the Russians certainly have a strong presence there. So, as far west as Kherson, they haven't taken Mykolayiv, but as far west as Kherson, maybe, a little bit, beyond that, and as far east as to the north of Mariupol, and then if you go up to the north around Zaporizhzhya, if you, kind of, draw that box, I mean, those are areas in the south that are largely in Russian control. That's not insignificant.

And so what we've seen them do with their Navy in the Sea of Azov is largely two things, one, use their cruise missile capability to strike targets inside Ukraine; and, two, to resupply and reinforce ground forces there.

You know, when we saw the LST sink at the pier in Berdyansk, that was what that LST was designed to do, not put ashore Marines but put ashore, you know, food and ammunition. So, largely, the Navy there in the Sea of Azov is really designed to just resupply their forces in the south.

And then, in the Black Sea, they are not -- it is largely show of force activity. They are not really conducting a lot of kinetic maritime activity in the Black Sea. I mean, they're capable of doing some cruise missile launches. But we're just not seeing imminent indications of, like, an amphibious assault or all-out naval barrage on Odessa.

Again, we think the presence in the Black Sea largely is designed to give pause to the Ukrainians that are in the South near Odessa and Mykolayiv, so that they don't leave.

Nancy Youssef?

Q: Thank you, (Edited) Sorry, Senior Defense Official. I just want to ask you a broader question. The president's announced $33 billion more in aid to Ukraine, an escalation of the U.S. military involvement. And you've said the U.S. is looking at making a permanent base in Eastern Europe. You described today more training that's happening. And of course U.S. Marines will likely have some presence in the country should the U.S. open an embassy.

I wonder if you could give us a sense of what the ceiling is on the U.S. military presence at this point? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The U.S. military presence in --

Q: I'm sorry --

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: -- in Europe?

Q: No, I'm sorry, U.S. military involvement in the war in Ukraine. What I'm saying is we've seen an escalation over these past two months, more aggressive financially, and also in terms of U.S. responsibility. I just -- I'm trying to help a reader understand as they see these, sort of, incremental increases in what the U.S. is doing. I want to help them be able to understand what the ceiling is on that. And I was wondering if you could help me? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't think we would describe it as an escalation, Nancy. It's a continuation. The president has been very clear that we're going to continue to help Ukraine defend itself as much as we can, as fast as we can. And the supplemental request that he asked Congress for today, which you guys will hear more of from Secretary Austin later, is designed to help us continue that support.

Not all of that $33 billion is going to be dedicated to defense. I mean, it's, $16 billion will be dedicated to the Defense Department's ability to continue to help Ukraine again. And, again, you'll hear more from the secretary about that later.

But it's a continuation. It's not an escalation. No change to this president's policy of no U.S. forces fighting in Ukraine or no change to our policy with respect to a no-fly zone, but you saw -- I mean, what you saw today is very much a continuation of what -- and an extension of what Secretary Austin was trying to do in Ramstein earlier this week, you know, getting 40-some odd nations together to talk about security assistance for Ukraine, both in the near term, in the fight that they're in now, and in the potential long term, depending on how long this war goes on and what a post-war environment might look like.

So I think, you know, taken in total, Monday's trip to -- I'm sorry -- Sunday's trip to Kyiv, by Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken; Tuesday's consultative meeting in Ramstein; and now what the secretary will turn into a monthly contact group; and then of course today's supplemental request all are of a piece of our -- I mean, it's tangible representations of our intent to continue to help Ukraine defend itself.

So that's how we would describe that.

Q: Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Dan Lamothe?

Q: Thank you. Good morning. I wanted to see if we could elaborate a bit on the training burden, as we add additional systems, additional vehicles -- and not only the U.S. but, you know, broadly, this CAESAR system that the French are adding, and some of these other things, just in terms of the challenge of the discussions that are under way to make sure the Ukrainians understand these, to maintain these, and how all that's coming together? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, it's a great question. And I'd start by reminding that were trying to send them systems that will help them in the fight in the Donbas; howitzers, counter-artillery radar, are some of those things, as well as UASs, but that don't require such an onerous training regimen that you have to take fighters out of the fight for too long.

And so I just described for you, you know, the six-day training on the howitzers and five to seven day training, depending on whether it's the M113 or the air defense radar. I mean, roughly, we're trying to keep the training at a reasonable level. We want to make sure that they can actually use this stuff, I mean, that we're not short-changing them on the training but at the same time that they're not taken out of the fight for so long that it's a detriment to their readiness.

I would also remind, I mean, the trainers that we are training are small tranches, not very many -- in the case of the howitzers, about 50; in the case of the M113s, it's about 50. In the case of the anti-air radar, it's really about between 15 and 20.

So a small number of Ukrainians are being pulled out for short periods of time. So we want to be mindful of their readiness and the impact on their ability to stay in the fight, as we put together these training packages on these systems. And again, we try to give them systems that will be helpful and useful in the fight today, but not so onerous.

Now, a lot of these systems -- you're right that there will be some required maintenance and upkeep, but we also don't find that the systems that they're getting will -- that the upkeep issues will be difficult for them to overcome. And, obviously, if there's parts that need to be replaced, we'll certainly support helping them get those parts. But these are systems that they can use relatively soon and relatively quickly and to the degree there's upkeep needs on the backend of that we'll certainly be willing to provide that to Ukraine.

But these are not systems that are so complicated, and so advanced that it's an equally onerous logistics trail to keep them active. These are pretty reliable and fairly easy to use systems.

Abraham ?

Q: Yeah, thanks so much for taking my questions.

You know, talking about training, and then onerous and long-term training, I wondered if you can address at Ramstein was there talk about new air defense systems, and even American combat jets like the Ukrainians have asked for in recent days?

They've asked for (Inaudible), they've asked for F-15s, F-16s, F-18s. Can you address that directly? Was it discussed, is it off the table because of training or, if not, what other reasons would it be?

And just a quick add-on to that, the Ukrainians said that spare jet parts were delivered on April 20th, what spare jet parts were delivered? Thanks so much.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, I don't have the inventory list of every spare part. I mean, but, yes, we have been providing and helping coordinate from other nations that have the kinds of aircraft that the Ukrainians fly.

We've been helping deliver spare parts that have -- as I've said before, have helped them get aircraft that weren't operable to get them operable, and flyable again. And that effort continues because aircraft when they fly they tend to break, and they need additional spare parts.

So that continues to flow but, you know, I couldn't possibly begin to give you a list of all the spare parts that have gone, there's just no way I could do that. Look, I'm not going to go beyond what the secretary said at Ramstein. I mean, it was a good discussion, 40 nations.

You saw that just in the course of the day or two that we were there several nations came forward even on that day and announced additional systems that they would be willing to provide Ukraine. It is a constant conversation that we're having with Ukraine about their needs. And I would leave it at that.

I'm not going to speculate about future aircraft deliveries one way or the other. Again, this is an Air Force that relies principally on old Soviet aircraft, that's what they're used to flying, that's what they've got in their fleet.

That's what we're trying to help them keep in the air and our sense from the meeting in Kyiv was that President Zelensky was very grateful for the support that he's getting from the United States.

Idrees?

Q: Quick questions, can you sort of give a sense of how many Russian troops are leaving the Mariupol area? And secondly, as of now, have you seen any Russian attacks on western weapons that are in Ukraine and being moved around?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I'm sorry, can you repeat the second one?

Q: Yes, second one, the Russians claim that they have hit NATO weapons that are being supplied to Ukraine within Ukraine. Have you seen any confirmation of any NATO weapons that have been hit by the Russians in Ukraine?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, we can't confirm that. And I don't know that there, unless the Ukrainians tell us, I don't know that we would be able to confirm that. Once this material gets inside Ukraine, it belongs to Ukraine.

As a matter of fact, once it gets picked up by Ukrainian soldiers outside of Ukraine, it's theirs, it belongs to them. And what they do with it, where they store it, how they deliver it to their troops is their business. And we don't dictate to them how that works.

And so, unless the Ukrainians were to tell us that they knew of a storage facility where western weapons were stored got hit we would not be able to know that, because we're not tracking each and every item as it gets stored temporarily, and as it gets delivered into the field.

And as for the number of forces leaving Mariupol, again, as I said at my outset, because I knew that somebody was going to ask me this, I tried to pre-butt the question, I don't know. We don't have an exact number of how many Russian forces are leaving Mariupol but we don't believe that the number is insignificant.

We think there's a significant number of Russian forces that are moving north and northwest out of Mariupol but I couldn't begin to quantify it for you or give you a unit designation. We are seeing them begin to leave Mariupol.

Again, as I said at the outset, they're still hitting Mariupol from the sky. And you don't continue to do that if you think you've won the battle of Mariupol. They are still hitting Mariupol.

And so our sense is the fighting goes on in Mariupol, but, yes, they are moving a not insignificant number of forces to the north and northwest out of there.

Q: Is it dozens or hundreds or thousands, scale?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Idrees, I'm just not going to go there. I just don't have that level of figurative feel.

It's -- they had about a dozen BTGs devoted to Mariupol, and we're seeing, you know, a good number of them, a significant number of them begin to leave. But I couldn't tell you where they are, how fast they're going, how many there are.

I mean, these are just early indications. I mean if we can get better granularity going forward I'll do that but I'm telling you what I know now. That's as far as I can go.

Let's see, Courtney?

Q: Hi. Three quick ones. Did you say how many Russian BTGs are still on the other side of the border in Russia re-fitting or ‘whatevering,’ getting reset?

And then have you said, or can you say, even like I know that this is tough one, but like roughly how many of the 155-millimeter artillery have been delivered? And finally, have you said whether the sea drones, I'm sorry, I don't remember what they're called, but unmanned Naval ‘blah, blah, blahs,’ have any of those been delivered? And did they require training?

Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Okay, an awful lot there. Let me --

Q: But they're quick yes or no questions, really. Kind of.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, no, no, I know you want to think that but, no.

Let's see, let me do the math here, hold on. Okay, so if I do my math right, we estimate that a little bit more than 20 BTGs are outside of Ukraine and not committed. It's not a perfect number because as they refashion these BTGs and restructure them, I mean, we don't -- our best estimate is that they've got about -- well, more than 20 -- slightly more than 20 that are not committed in Ukraine.

I do not know their operational status. In fact, that may be why they're not committed, because they're not fully operational yet. So that's our best estimate. And I know that that if you add, say, 20 to the 92 I gave you, you're up over, you know, 110, and you're going to say, "well, they started with -- you know, between 125 and 130," and that's right.

And they lost -- they have suffered casualties and they have had some BTGs that simply were no longer operational anymore and we don't assess that they tried to refashion them and put them back in again. But that's our best estimate.

And we continue to see, as they try to reinforce and put back into the Donbas some BTGs that were taken out, you know, they are, once again, relying on a fresh round of conscripts. And we have some early indications that while the conscripts start out with high morale, because they've been feasting on Russian propaganda, it doesn't take very long before that morale is sapped, once they get put into combat and face Ukrainian resistance. So we still assess that they're having morale and cohesion problems, as well, with some of these BTGs that are put back in.

On the 155s, what I would do is rather than give you exact numbers, which I'd really like to avoid, I would say that -- let's see -- about 10 percent of the PDA-7, the 40,000 that were in that, about 10 percent of that is in Ukraine and -- let's see -- the PDA-8, there's about more than 20 percent has been shipped over to the region. I don't have an update of how many of that is in Ukraine. So there's -- it's moving -- and it continues to move every single day.

I don't have an answer for you -- as you called it, the sea drones, the unmanned coastal defense vessels, the training was done on them. You might remember, when we had those small number of Ukrainians in the United States who got some Switchblade training, we talked about it at the time, they also got training on these unmanned coastal defense vessels, but I'll have to check and see if they're actually there or not. I actually don't know the answer to that but there was training done on them.

Q: Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Jeff Seldin?

Q: Thanks very much for doing this. And I apologize if I missed this earlier but has Russia established air superiority in any part of Ukraine or is there any sense that they're still trying to?

And also, very quickly, wondering if you can share if there have been any developments with regards to the foreign mercenaries that were being recruited and rumored to be brought in by Russia? Are there Syrian nationals, Libyan nationals, nationals from African countries in Russia as part of the Russian effort or now in Ukraine as part of the Russian effort?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We know that the Wagner Group is in the Donbas and that they have recruited some from folks from the Middle East and from North Africa. I don't know the status of the vaunted 16,000 that the Russians said they were going to recruit. I just don't have an indication that they're there in any great number.

We assess that the airspace is still contested over the country of Ukraine, but look, it changes from day to day. The Russians are still using airstrikes to hit Mariupol and the JFO. I would remind you that the airstrikes they're launching, almost all of them, are coming from Russian air bases. They're not taking off and landing in Ukraine. I mean, perhaps in the south, they have been able to do that on occasion, but most of them are all coming from inside Russia and then they go back to the airfields in in Russia. And the same would go for the missile strikes -- the launchers are inside Russia.

So that's what makes the airspace so dynamic and so contested. It's not not like the Russians own every airfield in Ukraine and are using it -- that's not the case -- the Ukrainians still are operating their air forces and their missile defense systems inside the country.

And so we would continue to assess that the airspace is contested but the bulk of the activity is on the JFO and Mariupol.

Mike Brest?

Q: Thanks for taking my call. Yesterday, Ambassador Van Schaack said that there was credible information that a Russian military unit executed Ukrainian forces who were trying to surrender. What is the Pentagon aware of about this and what can you tell us?

And secondarily, I'm hoping you could speak a little bit about the U.S.' visibility in Ukraine lately. Now that with the war focusing on the Donbas, does that help or hurt the U.S.' ability to see what's happening? Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: As for what we can see happening, I mean, we have good comms with Ukrainians and we do the best we can to continue on our own to provide them intelligence and information that's useful to them.

Our visibility into what's going on is not perfect, it has never been perfect, since the beginning of this war 63 days ago. We've been talking about this now for two months that there's going to be things we just can't see in the moment and there's going to be things that we actually can see, and some of that's driven by weather and our own ability to access information.

We don't have people on the ground, so, you know, that inherently makes our visibility somewhat limited. So we're doing the best we can and that's why, when I provide you these updates, they may not be as granular as you want but they are as granular as we can be, at least on an open phone line, and we continue to try to glean as much as we can from what's going on.

Again, we are in touch with the Ukrainians every single day. And then Germany, at Ramstein, I mean, Minister Reznikov, in the first session, spent time talking to all the assembled nations about the battlefield update, what they were seeing, what they were experiencing. So we're hearing directly from them as well.

You had another question, I think.

Q: Yeah. It came out yesterday that there is --

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I don't have anything for you on that, I don't have any information specifically related to that. I would just add that we at the department do believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes. We do believe Russian forces have committed atrocities. We have seen on our own indications that they have participated in executions of Ukrainian civilians.

But I don't have anything specific on that particular comment made by -- by the ambassador.

Q: Thank you.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Tom Bowman?

Q: Yeah, if you could talk a little bit more about Izyum, which appears to be the main thrust. You know, as you said and others, the Russians are moving south and also west. Are they making more progress in one direction or the other? And how many BTGs roughly are up there? And also, if you could drill down a little bit more on logistics and sustainment. What are the particular problems? Is it actually lack of supplies? Is it getting the supplies from point A to point B, lack of trucks, all on the same road, as we saw up in Kyiv a couple weeks ago?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: On Izyum, we do assess those sort of three lines of axes coming out of Izyum, they still try to make progress on there. But what's happening is, Tom, there's just a lot of back-and-forth, I mean, over, you know, in the area of Lyman and Slovyansk, Kramatorsk and a town called -- I'm probably not pronouncing this right, but Borbenkova that there's just a lot of back-and-forth and on any given day it changes.

I mean, you know, one of the things that Minister Reznikov told the secretary when we were in Germany is, you know, they'll take two towns and villages and we'll take two towns and villages, and then they'll lose two towns and villages and we'll lose two towns and villages, and literally, every day it changes.

So I want to be careful not to get into a too-specific blow-by-blow here. They continue to try to move south out of Izyum, and as I said at the top, they are making some slow and incremental progress, but not enough that changes the actual battlefield situation. It's still relatively like it was a week ago. And again, every day it changes.

And as for logistics, we think that they're trying to solve the problem of pre-positioning, or having on a shorter line, access to their logistics and sustainment capabilities to their troops, and they're wary of getting too far out in front of their ability to sustain their troops.

And so we think what's happening here is, one, the Ukrainians continue to resist and push back on them, and to try to target their logistics and systemic capabilities, and the Russians are being cautious. They're being careful not to make the same mistakes as as they made in the Battle of Kyiv.

So I think that's the general assessment. I don't know how many trucks they've got to the effort. I couldn't tell you that, or what the ground lines are of communication. They clearly did try, in advance of what we now are referring to as the Battle of the Donbas, they tried to pre-position some of this stuff, or at least get it closer to where their operational maneuver forces would be. But there's a wariness here that we're seeing, and maybe a lack of complete faith in their ability to really do dynamic logistics the way other modern militaries can do.

Q: And is it all sorts of supplies? Is it, you know, fuel, food, you know, weaponry, bombs?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, it's logistics and sustainment across the board. Fuel --

Q: Okay.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: -- food, medical supplies, ammunition, replacement weapons, you know, that kind of thing.

Q: Okay, great, thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Listen, I've got to go, guys.