The U.S. is not sure when Russia will launch a new offensive in the east of Ukraine following reports the Kremlin is in the process of repositioning forces away from Kyiv and toward the separatist Donbas region, The Hill reported.
During a CNN interview Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the timetable of a "full-on offensive" in eastern Ukraine has not yet been pinned down.
"So, it's already — you can see them already sort of trying to shape the environment – unclear exactly when full-on offensive operations might occur," Kirby said, adding the shifting objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin make it difficult to predict his next move.
Kirby suggested three possible strategic reasons for Russian troops to regroup in eastern Ukraine.
- Russian forces declare victory after a complete capture of the Donbas and use it as justification to end the costly war.
- Putin uses the occupation as leverage to push for wider concessions from Ukraine.
- The region is used as a launching point for Russia to continue the war.
"We're just not sure. But what we are sure is, we're going to make sure Ukraine can defend itself and defend all its territory," the Pentagon spokesman said.
The comments by Kirby come after President Biden said earlier in the day the U.S. will send another $800 million in aid to Ukraine, including heavy weapons, according to Reuters.
"We cannot rest now. As I assured President Zelenskyy, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom," Biden said in a written statement.
The new package will bring the total military aid sent to Ukraine by the U.S. since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion.
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