TRANSCRIPT: White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard, and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby [Excerpt]
(The Whitehouse – whitehouse.gov – Oct. 26, 2023)
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Kirby: I do want to, if — if you’ll allow me to, just to take a couple of minutes to update you on the battlefield situation in Ukraine.
As we have said publicly, Russia has launched a renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine across multiple lines, including around Avdiivka, Lyman, and Kupiansk.
Now, I spoke about this in a gaggle recently, but this offensive was not a surprise. We’ve been watching this build and come. And we’ve warned that President Putin still aims to conquer Ukraine, and we’ve been working to ensure that Ukraine has the equipment it needs to defend its territory.
Just today, you may have noticed, we la- — announced another package of security assistance, which includes air defense capabilities, Javelin anti-tank missiles, more artillery ammunition, and more ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, otherwise known as HIMARS.
Thus far, using all these capabilities, the Ukrainians have been able to hold on and hold the — on the defense against this offensive, successfully repelling Russian tank columns that have been advancing on a Avdiivka.
Since the 11th of October, Russia has suffered significant losses in this offensive attempt of theirs, including at least 125 armored vehicles around Avdiivka and more than a battalion’s worth of equipment.
We expect more Russian attacks to come. This is a dynamic conflict, and we need to remember that Russia still maintains some offensive capability and may be able to achieve some tactical gains in the coming months.
The pur- — to pursue that outcome in Avdiivka and elsewhere on the battlefield, Russia continues to show no regard for the lives of its soldiers.
We believe they have suffered thousands of casualties in their effort to conduct this offensive, some of them on the orders of their own leaders.
We have information that the Russian military has been actually executing soldiers who refuse to follow orders. We also have information that Russian commanders are threatening to execute entire units if they seek to retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire.
Russia’s mobilized forces remain undertrained, underequipped, and unprepared for combat. As was the case during their failed winter offensive last year, Russian military appears to be using what we would call “human wave tactics” — just throwing masses of these poorly trained soldiers right into the fight, no proper equipment, no leadership, no resourcing, no support.
It is unsurprising that Russian forces are suffering from poor morale given all these conditions.
Russia’s re- — renewed attempt at an offensive is a sobering reminder that President Putin is not giving up on his aspirations to take all of Ukraine. And as long as Russia continues its brutal assault, we have to continue to support the Ukrainian people in their self-defense, because his intentions are clear. You heard the President talk about this last week.
He basically said that if Western weapons to Ukraine stopped, Ukraine would have a week to live. So, to ensure that we can continue to do that, it’s critical that Congress step up and pass the supplemental request that the President put forward last week, which included a significant amount of resources for Ukraine for their self-defenses, for their humanitarian and economic needs.
It’s time now to move forward with that supplemental funding, because time clearly is not on our side or on — or on that of Ukraine going forward. …
[post also appeared at whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/10/26/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-national-economic-council-director-lael-brainard-and-nsc-coordinator-for-strategic-communications-john-kirby/]