By David Vergun
WASHINGTON – NEWS – The Defense Department does not believe there is any credence to Russia saying its retreat from Snake Island (in the Black Sea area of Ukraine) was a gesture of goodwill, said a senior DOD official today, who took questions from the Pentagon press regarding Russia and Ukraine.
“We view this development as that the Ukrainians were very successful at applying significant pressure on the Russians, including by using Harpoon missiles that they recently acquired to attack a resupply ship. When you realize how barren and deserted Snake Island is, you understand the importance of resupply. So, the Ukrainians made it very hard for the Russians to sustain their operations there made them very vulnerable to Ukrainian strikes. So, that of course, is why Russia left the island,” the official said.
The result of this is that it does make it a lot easier for Ukraine to defend Odesa and in the future to be able to open those sea lanes without Russia controlling Snake Island, the official added.
Fighting continues in the Donbas, the official said, with high casualties on both sides and very little ground changing hands.
Regarding the recent deliveries of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems from the U.S. Ukrainian forces have had good success in employing these longer-range artillery systems, to include targeting Russian command posts, the official said.
In other related news, this afternoon, DOD announced $820 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine. This includes an authorization of a presidential drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $50 million, as well as $770 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI funds.
Spotlight: Support for Ukraine
The presidential drawdown authorization is the fourteenth drawdown of equipment from DOD inventories for Ukraine that the president has authorized since August 2021. Capabilities in this package include additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
Under USAI, the department will provide Ukraine with:
- Two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems;
- Up to 150,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition; and
- Four additional counter-artillery radars.
Unlike presidential drawdowns, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DOD stocks. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine’s armed forces.
The United States has now committed approximately $7.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $6.9 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, according to the Pentagon.