The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U.S. wants Russia ‘weakened,' sees critical phase in east

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on April 24. (Video: AP)
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American officials say they are rushing equipment to Ukraine for a potentially critical battle over the country’s east and seeking to weaken Russia long term as Moscow’s invasion enters its third month.

8:17 a.m.
Headshot of Bryan Pietsch
Bryan Pietsch: Here are some takeaways from the British Defense Ministry’s Monday intelligence update and the end-of-day Sunday assessment by the Institute for the Study of War, a D.C.-based think tank:− Russia has made minor gains in some areas in Donbas, the eastern region it’s seeking to control.− But Russia is not devoting large units to carry out “decisive” attacks or allowing troops to pause and regroup, lessening the efficiency and efficacy of its assaults.− Russia’s choice to surround, rather than attack, the steel plant in Mariupol where Ukrainian fighters and civilians are holed up, is depleting troops’ energy.− The ISW said Russia may be preparing for attacks on the plant, a move that it says could bring high Russian casualties.− Meanwhile, British officials say Russia’s Defense Ministry wants to use military rather than civilian channels for bereavement payments for the families of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. The move is probably an effort to further obscure the “true scale” of its losses in Ukraine from the Russian public, according to Britain.
Bryan Pietsch, Reporter