The Pentagon says it is concerned that Putin has been misinformed by advisers.
In the past 24 hours, the Pentagon has seen “less than 20%” of Russian troops in the vicinity of Kiev move north as they “relocate” to Belarus to re-equip for possible action in eastern Ukraine, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.
The White House has also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misinformed by his top advisers about Russia’s military development, a development that the Pentagon has described as “encouraging.”
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Wednesday that “over the last 24 hours, we have seen Russia reinstate a small percentage of troops and battalion strategic groups against Kiev.” “Probably around 20% of what they had, they started to change some of those troops.”
In particular, Kirby said Russian troops were seen advancing toward Belarus to the north, near the Hostomel airport north of the city. The airport has been the scene of intense fighting since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Separately, a senior U.S. defense official said some Russian troops had been seen withdrawing from the Chernobyl nuclear plant. However, it is not clear whether they will all leave.
Some of the troops are being relocated to Belarus, Kirby said, adding that none of the units were seen returning to their home bases.
“If the Russians are serious about the growing decline, because that’s their demand here, they should be sent home, but they’re not doing that, at least not yet,” Kirby said. “That’s not what we’re seeing.”
Kirby said he was deliberately using the word “reinstatement” instead of “withdrawal” to describe the movements of Russian forces “because the way the defense ministry is doing this is that they are retreating and they are trying – exacerbate the situation and frustrate and we do not believe we have any I didn’t see the evidence. “
Instead, Kirby said the United States assessed that the Russians would “rearrange these troops, re-supply them and then probably deploy them elsewhere in Ukraine.”
A senior U.S. defense official says U.S. intelligence believes Russia wants to move troops to fight in the Donbass region, which would be consistent with a public statement by Russian officials that they want to make that region a priority in their operations. .
Even as some Russian troops moved around Kiev, Kirby and the rest formed a defensive position. Kirby noted that Russian forces continued to fire missiles and artillery at the city and surrounding suburbs.
Kirby said that without going into intelligence, the Pentagon agreed with comments in a news report blaming a US official that Putin was not being fully advised on Russia’s performance on the battlefield in Ukraine.
“We agree with the conclusion that Mr Putin was not fully informed of every turn by his defense ministry last month,” Kirby said Wednesday.
Kirby described the assessment as “uncomfortable” and “a matter of concern.”
“It’s true that he may not have all the context, that he doesn’t fully understand the extent to which his forces are failing in Ukraine. It’s a little uncomfortable to be honest with you,” Kirby said.
“If he is not fully aware of how badly he is doing, how can his negotiators come up with a permanent agreement? Certainly one that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty,” he added.
“The other thing is you don’t know how this national leader would react to bad news,” Kirby said. ‘