Senior Protection Official Holds a Background Briefing > U.S. Division of Protection > Transcript

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: OK, again at it right here as Senior Protection Official. On the operational facet we nonetheless assess that Russian progress on the bottom stays gradual and uneven within the northern joint drive operation space with Russian forces showing to essentially kind of orient themselves round Lyman, L-Y-M-A-N, Lyman, which is as I believe you all know only a wee bit southeast of Izyum, however that appears to be the place they’re beginning to orient themselves.

As they proceed to attempt to transfer south and southeast, they’re persevering with to satisfy with better concentrations of Ukrainian forces and a stiffer resistance, so that they nonetheless remained stalled normally. Once more, I might say progress could be very gradual and uneven. They’re stalled by way of their total momentum within the north.

Within the south we have not seen a lot progress by the Russians coming north out of Mariupol in any respect. They appear to have paused both to — both to create higher defensive positions or to refit and re-posture themselves, however they don’t seem to be making — they don’t seem to be making actually any progress within the south. There are — they’re south of a city known as — simply south of a city known as Velyka Novosilka. It is V-E-L-Y-Ok-A, and second phrase N-O-V-O-S-I-L-Ok-A, and that they are south of that and no notable modifications from their positions within the final 24. No notable modifications both in Kherson or Mariupol.

Many of the strikes proceed to be targeted on the JFO and on Mariupol. Now we have seen some missile strikes out into the west close to Lviv. Seems like they’re attempting to hit essential infrastructure, electrical energy and that type of factor, and attempting to get on the skill for the Ukrainians to make use of railroads specifically, however that they are — I might simply say that whereas we’re nonetheless assessing kind of the harm, it isn’t clear that they have been very correct in attempting to hit that essential infrastructure, and there is been no perishable influence that we have seen to impeding or in some other method obstructing with the Ukrainians’ skill to replenish and restore themselves.

No vital modifications within the maritime posture to talk to. Actually there’s nothing there. On the safety help stuff, I will not get into coaching as a result of we simply had a number of that, however I may inform you that greater than 90 % of the 90 howitzers that had been pledged to Ukraine within the final two presidential drawdown authorities are literally in Ukrainian palms. Once more, the place they go and the way they’re getting used, that is as much as the Ukrainians. So I — we do not have a chook’s eye view of each single tube and might inform you the place it’s within the battle. 

And as for the 155 ammunition that goes with them, almost 90,000 155 projectiles have already been transferred to Ukraine and are in Ukraine, and to remind you the full of these two packages had been about 144,000, so actually a majority of the projectiles are additionally in Ukraine. 

And I believe I will cease there and we’ll go to — we’ll go to questions. Go forward, Lita.

Q: OK, thanks. Sorry. I believe I am unmuted. Are you able to say whether or not or not the Russian efforts to disrupt U.S. and western shipments into Ukraine have been both impacted or in the event you’ve needed to change something in any respect as a result of that seems to be — even be certainly one of their objectives in what they have been doing during the last couple of days, notably in hanging out round Lviv and different locations? Has any of that labored in any respect?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, there’s been no influence to our skill to proceed flows into Ukraine. We have seen no indications that any of this western assist has been impeded and even struck. We simply haven’t any proof of that occuring.

Q: Only a comply with up. You mentioned they appear to have paused popping out of Mariupol. Do you have got any new guestimates on how lots of the BTGs are nonetheless round there or what number of have left?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Sure, I believe we’d — we’d — we’d estimate that roughly two battalion tactical teams price of Russians are nonetheless devoted to Mariupol, so it is a few hundreds, however is that two precede BTGs, we do not actually have a clear image of that as a result of some — we do assume there is a combination of another non-Russian navy forces which can be there. As an example, some Chechen fighters. So roughly a few hundreds, which is equal to 2 BTGs, however I might watch out reporting this as precisely two BTGs are in Mariupol, however the nice majority of the forces that had been on the bottom in and round Mariupol have left and are actually, a we have talked about, have tried to maneuver north and so they’ve simply — they’ve simply been type of stalled there south of that city, that Velyka Novosilka.

OK, Bowman.

Q: Sure, are you able to give us a standing report on Kharkiv, what is going on on with the combating round there? And in addition you mentioned 90 % of the 90 howitzers are in Ukrainian palms. Does that imply simply in nation or really within the battle in the event you may make clear that?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I meant within the nation.

Q: OK, and ballpark what number of are literally within the battle? Do now we have any sense?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I believe I will — I’ve that quantity, however I believe I am simply going to demur on that, Tom. There’s…

Q: How about — how a few ballpark quantity?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: … some particulars we need to — no, I am simply not going to go there, Tom.

Q: All proper. All proper.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: They’re — we all know that they’re utilizing a few of these howitzers within the battle. However I’m not going to get into drive disposition on an unclassified line and provides away, you already know, Ukrainian operational functionality. I simply — I am simply not going to do this. However, do now we have an concept? Sure, we do. 

Kharkiv, the Ukrainians nonetheless maintain Kharkiv. They — they — they by no means really gave Kharkiv up. And as I mentioned the opposite day, now we have seen indications that they had been capable of push the Russian forces about 20 to 30 miles to the — to the east of Kharkiv. However, they nonetheless maintain it. And the Russians haven’t made any progress there. 

And we — we nonetheless assume, although, that the Russians need Kharkiv. I imply, they have not precisely left it alone both. And once more, we have talked about this rather a lot, however in the event you simply take a look at a map, you possibly can see it is a huge industrial metropolis and it is proper on the — proper on the northwestern kind of lip of what we take into account the Donbas space. 

So, despite the fact that it isn’t technically in that JFO from industrial capability facet and simply from a geographic location, I imply, it seems as if the Russians nonetheless have designs on Kharkiv. However there’s — they’ve made — they’ve made no progress.

Q: All proper, thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Sure, Jennifer Griffin. OK, possibly we misplaced Jen. David —

Q: Hey.

Q: Did I simply hear Jen come on the road or?

Q: Hey, that is Liz Friden, her producer. I will simply use this time to ask a fast query. Have any of the helicopters been delivered to Ukraine except for the 5 that had been delivered in March?


Q: The — this — the announcement of those Belarusian workout routines, what’s — what’s the evaluation of that? Is {that a} precursor to Belarus getting into the combating or is it an try and pin down Ukrainian forces from reinforcing the east? What is the evaluation of it?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I do not assume now we have a agency, clear evaluation of the announcement of this train. It may simply be workout routines. I may inform you that we have so no indication that Belarus has proven an intention to contain themselves in Ukraine. 

Sam LaGrone?

Q: Hey, I am good. Thanks.


Q: Has been answered. Thanks. 


Q: Hey, thanks very a lot for doing it. On the helicopters actual fast. Not one of the helicopters of the 16 that had been promised have been delivered? Simply need to ensure I perceive that proper. And in addition, any updates relating to Russia’s use of mercenaries and or international fighters? Something on that entrance? Thanks. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: 5 of — 5 of the 16 MI-17s are in Ukraine. The others 11 are in progress of getting there. However they don’t seem to be within the nation but. And, I am sorry, what was your query on international fighters?

Q: Simply questioning in the event you’ve seen any modifications within the — within the Russian use of mercenaries and or international fighters? If any have been coming in, being deployed anyplace? 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, I imply, I talked about Chechens in all probability being down in Mariupol. We all know the Wagner Group has been working within the Donbas and that they’ve recruited from locations like Syria and Libya and that they use Syrian and Libyan fighters, however I could not provide you with a precise quantity or precisely the place they’re geolocated. However exterior of these issues we have already talked about, I haven’t got any extra context on international fighters. 

Let’s examine, Jack Detsch?

Q: Hey. With the strikes on Lviv, I am simply questioning in the event you’re seeing an uptick in Russia going after each essential infrastructure, I do know you talked about, but additionally Ukraine’s protection trade so as to knock that out as a part of the warfare?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Nothing on the protection infrastructure facet in latest days, Jack. However, I imply, once they had been every week or so in the past hitting Kyiv, we all know that they had been attempting to hit some weapons manufacturing functionality there. However, we have not seen that in fairly just a few days. 

The strikes that we’re seeing within the west are actually — it appears to be like like they are going after, after I say essential infrastructure what I imply is electrical energy, that is predominantly what they appear to attempt to be hitting. 

However once more, no actual — we’re nonetheless doing — attempting to do the most effective we are able to on a harm evaluation of that, we simply do not have a number of extra granularity in how profitable they have been. 

However, I imply, in the event you simply take a few steps again, what you possibly can see them doing with a few of these, I will name them out-of-area airstrikes, as a result of we’re all targeted on the Donbas within the south, appropriately so, is to attempt to get at, once more, the Ukrainians skill to resupply themselves and to bolster themselves. Each side depend on rail to maneuver issues and to maneuver themselves. 

And so, we predict that that is what that is — that these strikes round Lviv had been actually essential infrastructure strikes. However once more, do not have a full BDA of it and no indication that there is, again to my query — reply to Lita, there is no indication in any respect that — that there is — that there is a Russian obstacle to the stream of fabric.

Q: Acquired it. And do you have got an total replace on the missile launch image? I do not assume I acquired that on the high. After which simply if the tempo is growing, as a result of it looks as if simply from the numbers you’ve got been offering it is — the common has gone up from the place it was by way of launches per day.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: The one freaking day, and now we’re at day 69, the place I haven’t got a missile rely, I — I — you — I get requested about — I get requested concerning the missile rely. I haven’t got it, sadly. We simply did not get it at this time. So, I will attempt to — we’ll attempt to — we’ll take for the file and see if we are able to get you guys one thing on background later at this time. There’s not — know — simply know, oversight on our half. It isn’t that we’re attempting to tug again the numbers. 

However, look, I might simply inform you, I imply, once more, I do not know what the quantity goes to be at this time, Jack. So, what I am about to say might be fully flawed. However, normally, during the last — properly, during the last couple of weeks at the very least, there’s simply — there’s been, you already know, roughly between 40 to 50 per day. 

It varies a little bit bit, but it surely’s roughly 40 to 50 per day and so they’re principally targeted on, at the very least within the final, you already know, couple weeks, actually final week, all targeted — principally targeted on the JFO and Mariupol. 

And we have seen sporadic strikes, long-range strikes, you already know, like we talked about only a minute in the past out in Lviv and generally in central Ukraine. However, I am a map proper now that exhibits that what we — what we take into account kind of — what we — OPIR reporting, it is mainly reviews explosions and that are nearly in each case a results of an airstrike of some variety. And, I imply, it is all very, very targeting the Donbas and north of — north of Mariupol. 

So, we’ll get you a contemporary quantity. That needs to be a gettable factor. I simply — I’ll — I simply did not have it right here at this time. 

I misplaced my place. Barb?

Q: You had been speaking about you haven’t any indication that Russian strikes within the west particularly round Lviv in that space on these railheads and people factors have impacted Ukraine’s skill to replenish, restore or get the weapons that you simply’re sending in. You additionally mentioned that there are actually artillery items of their palms within the battle within the east. 

So these are two examples of the place you’ll be able to discuss concerning the standing of weapons you’ve got given Ukraine as soon as they cross the border which appears barely totally different than the continuing place that you do not what occurs to them as soon as they cross the border. So are you getting extra data from Ukraine now concerning the weapons you’ve got given them and what’s being completed with them? And in that case, are you able to clarify any of this?

And my fast follow-up, are you able to carry us updated on any Russian operations round Luhansk? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Sure, Barb, the data that we — that we get will not be constant from day-to-day. They’re in a battle for his or her lives and if we’re capable of finding out as a result of they inform us what they’re doing with some of these things then we all know. However we’re not — we’re not persistently attempting to attract out from them each element of each munition that goes in and the place it’s and the way they’re utilizing it. 

Our focus is on getting it to them. Their focus is on getting it into the battle and utilizing it. And that is taking place. So my data at this time may not be nearly as good tomorrow. I am simply, once more, as I mentioned from the very starting of doing these backgrounders, I gives you what I can however it is advisable perceive that from daily what I can provide you might be going to vary and it isn’t at all times going to be completely tactile that method I do know you guys prefer to get it.

We’re simply doing the most effective we are able to to maintain you knowledgeable.

Q: Earlier than you get — earlier than you get to Luhansk, can I simply follow-up and ask if you’re getting some sporadic data do you have got any sense of indication steering on to what extent they might be genuinely stockpiling or storing weapons, munitions, ammunition for the approaching days and weeks as they see this battle go on? Are they setting issues apart to construct their stock so that they at all times have one thing in-hand?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I might merely inform you that they’re — they’re getting the fabric into the battle as finest they’ll. And that modifications from space to space and the standing of the battle itself. And I’m not going to speak about their very own logistics. 

Once more, I believe we have to be cautious to not — to not discuss publically about points that have an effect on their operational safety. They’re doing what they consider they should do to make use of this materials the most effective they’ll. And we do know that a few of it’s within the battle. 

Once more, we do not have good data of each single munition or each single system that is being despatched in on any given day. However we do hear again from them and we do know that on this case that is there are — there are Howitzers which can be getting used. 

And the way they handle the munitions themselves I believe they need to converse to that to the diploma that they need to. I believe they won’t need to and we clearly will not be going to violate that operational safety for them.

On Luhansk, I haven’t got something on Luhansk at this time. Within the abstract that I am and the data that gleam to do these briefings there is no such thing as a replace on Luhansk that I can converse to.

Q: OK.


Q: Hello. Are you able to — going again to Belarus, are any Russians participating within the workout routines? Are you aware something about that? And are these workout routines forcing Ukrainians to divert extra forces to the north border for security?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I do not something concerning the Belarusian workout routines, Paul. I do not know what they’re doing or what they — what items are collaborating in that. I imply I noticed that they had been going to conduct some workout routines however we do not — we simply do not have a transparent evaluation of that.

What we do see is the Russians continues to attempt to focus their efforts notably within the northern a part of the Donbas and that is what we’re targeted on proper now.

Q: Additionally another — another factor. Is there any extra data on the go to of Common Gerasimov to Ukraine?  What he was doing and what the outcomes had been?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No. We haven’t any extra context about his go to. Apart from that we all know he went. Our evaluation typically that’s was kind of an try to supply some oversight. In all probability a little bit of truth discovering however we do not have — we do not have something extra on that.

Q: Thanks.


Q: Hello, sir. I had a few industrial based mostly questions, a little bit nearer to dwelling. Has the Division of Protection designated at this level any applications the D.O. class? I requested a few weeks in the past about D.X. and there wasn’t any designation on that. 

However have any been designation D.O. for top precedence?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: I will must test, I do not know. 

Q: OK. A month in the past the Pentagon introduced $300 million within the Ukrainian Safety Help package deal. A month later the one contract that you simply guys had put out is for the Puma drone however no different contracts. Are you able to test the standing of that? As a result of that was excessive profile on the time and it appears to have dropped off the map.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Sure, I will test it, Tony. I will inform you I am additionally going to be arranging within the subsequent few days someone from — in all probability from A&S to hitch me on this backgrounder on background to supply extra context on this. I understandably have restricted expertise in that world and so I acknowledge the excessive curiosity on this. 

Identical to we did with the coaching, I’ll get some subject material specialists to hitch me both on this background name and even possibly on the podium. However that is going to take me a few days to get organized. 

Q: OK. Properly I might recognize if you will get a roll up, a standing report on the $300 million. Apart from the Puma contract what else has been introduced presumably that we’re not conscious of or the standing of the opposite — the opposite like laser guided rockets.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Properly keep in mind, Tony, there is a restrict of what $7 –

Q: Seven level three million, sure.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: — 7.5 that we — under that we do not announce. So we’re not going to violate coverage simply due to these circumstances. 

Q: Proper.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: So I — if we did not announce it then it is both it did not occur but or it is under that threshold. 

Q: All proper so long as you will get an replace that’d be good. Thanks. 

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: All proper, Phil Stewart. Phil, you there? OK, we misplaced, Phil. Lara Seligman?

Q: Sure, sorry about that. Sure. Are you able to hear me?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Go forward. Go forward, good.

Q: OK, nice. Sure, the Ukraine Intel evaluation from at this time mentioned that the Russians had been more likely to transfer out of Izyum to attempt to seize the cities of Kramatorsk and Syevyerodonetsk, and simply questioning whether or not you — you — the U.S. assesses the identical? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We have been speaking about this now for days, Phil. I imply, I’ve — I’ve talked about all of these cities. As I’ve — as I’ve talked to you earlier than, we see them kind of on three traces of entry popping out of — of — of Izyum — one’s towards Lyman — Lyman — I — I hope I am saying that proper — and that — I talked about that in my opening feedback, that they — that they appear to be orienting on Lyman — the — the center line of entry popping out of Izyum is — is in direction of Slovyansk, and within the route of Kramatorsk as — as kind of the third, as properly.

After which I suppose in the event you may, you could possibly — you — you could possibly draw a fourth line of entry coming south out of the Izyum area that simply goes straight south to attempt to — once more, to attempt to minimize off the Ukrainians within the Donbas and to satisfy up with a line of entry that will likely be coming north out of — out of Mariupol, however that line of entry is stalled, as I mentioned earlier.

So we proceed to see that these three — and I am — frankly, we have been speaking about this for — for some time. So I — I do not know that — I do not — I do not know if there’s any extra so as to add to that.

Q: Certain. I suppose what I believed was attention-grabbing is simply the way in which they — they type of mentioned flat out that — that the — they assessed the Russians had been going to seize them, these two cities, and I — and it was — my — the wording of — they used the phrase “seize.” It wasn’t “attempt to seize,” they — they mentioned “seize.”

So I suppose I — what I used to be asking was not a lot your evaluation on — on the — on the routes the Russians are going to absorb this battle however that — that you simply assume that they will have the ability to seize these two locations? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: We — once more, Phil, I do not assume there’s a lot distinction right here. I imply, the — the — properly earlier than at this time, we have been speaking about their efforts to attempt to take these cities. I imply, I’ve — I’ve — I’ve not been pulling any punches on that. Why else would they be transferring in direction of them in the event that they did not need to take them?

However am I ready to say that they’ve been taken? No. There’s been a — they — they haven’t made very even or regular progress coming south out of Izyum. They’re nonetheless assembly a stiff Ukrainians — Ukrainian resistance. So I — I — I do not know the way what I am saying is totally different than what the — what’s put out at this time.

Lara Seligman?

Q: I am good. Thanks.


Q: Hey, two fast ones. Do you have got up to date numbers on the type of common variety of sorties that Russia is launching now in comparison with final couple of weeks? And any kind of pattern line as — you already know, are they down, are they counting on air energy much less or extra?

After which secondly, do you have got any evaluation of whether or not Russia’s skill to plan and — and execute a few of its operations had been degraded by the strike final week that additionally injured Gerasimov? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Once more, I am not confirming Gerasimov’s bodily situation. So I’ve no extra data on — on reviews a few strike in Izyum by the — by the Ukrainians. You’d have to speak to the Ukrainian Armed Forces on that.

And as for the — the sortie price for the Russians, it — they — you already know, it — once more, it varies daily. They’re — they had been slightly below 250 sorties during the last 24 hours. That’s — it is a little bit — little lower than they’d yesterday however not by a lot, and, like, daily, it type of goes up and down. I imply, it is someplace between 2 and 300 on — on any given day, based mostly on what — what they’re attempting to do.

And — and once more, the — the — the preponderance of — of airstrikes from plane are — are within the JFO and in and round Mariupol. They’re nonetheless hitting Mariupol and they’re nonetheless cautious of flying into Ukrainian airspace. So that they’re largely launching this stuff from out — exterior Ukrainian airspace, to the diploma that they’ll, and that is — that is about the place we’re.

OK, final query to Courtney.

Q: Hey, simply two fast ones. I — I am — I am nonetheless unclear on the 2 BTGs in Mariupol. Are you able to — I am sorry, are you able to clarify that another time?

And — after which the — I simply needed to know if there’s any determination about U.S. Marines to the U.S. — to — like, are they going to Kyiv proper now to do any type of evaluation on the embassy or something — any updates on that you would be able to share? Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: No, I — I do know of no motion by — by the U.S. Marines to go to Lviv. Our diplomats are — are — are making brief journeys in however I — I do know of no exercise by the — by — by Marines to help that.

And what — what I mentioned about Mariupol was we assess that there is roughly a few thousand Russian forces which can be nonetheless round Mariupol. That’s roughly the equal of a few BTGs — and I — and I — I — I believed I mentioned it earlier, to — please do not report that this implies there’s two BTGs in Mariupol as a result of we really — we do not know that that rely — you already know, that you would be able to rely that precisely. It is — it — it — a BTG — a Russian BTG is between 800 and 1,000 troops, relying on the aim of the BTG. There’s roughly about 2,000 Russians nonetheless at Mariupol, in order that equates to about two BTGs, however — however — however I do not even assume they’re organizing themselves round Mariupol with — that method.

I used to be simply attempting to place a — a qualifier on it so you could possibly perceive the — the — the scale and scope. The — the remainder of the BTGs that they’d devoted to Mariupol, roughly 10, have moved away and are — are — try to make progress on that northern entry however they haven’t made any progress.

I — does that clear it up?

Q: Yeah, that is sensible. Thanks.

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yep. OK, thanks, everyone. We’ll goodbye.

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