Watch CBS News

U.S. does not expect significant Russian breakthrough in Ukraine's Kharkiv region

U.S. security agreement supports Ukraine
Biden signing security agreement to support Ukraine for next 10 years 01:58

The U.S. does not expect Russia to mount a significant breakthrough in its offensive against the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine, the Pentagon said Thursday. 

"A couple of weeks ago, there was concern that would see a significant breakthrough on the part of the Russians," said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. "I don't think we'll see that going forward. I don't see a large exploitation force that could take advantage of a breakthrough." 

Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown told reporters following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels that the situation in Kharkiv has been stabilizing in recent weeks. 

In May, the Biden administration partially reversed its policy that prohibited Ukraine from using American-provided weapons for strikes inside of Russia. 

The updated policy allows Ukraine to conduct strikes just on the other side of the border where Russia has been staging attacks against Kharkiv but does not allow Ukraine to strike deep into Russia or to use the long-range missiles, known as ATACMS, for strikes inside Russia. 

Defence ministers of the NATO-Ukraine Council meet in Brussels
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Q. Brown Jr. attend a press conference on the day of the NATO defence ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 13, 2024. Johanna Geron / REUTERS

"The intent of allowing them to conduct counterfire was to help them address the issue of Russians conducting staging - building staging areas just on the other side of the border and attacking from those staging areas," Austin said Thursday. 

Russia launched its offensive against the Kharkiv region in early May in what appeared to be an attempt to make gains before U.S. supplies of weapons continued flowing after months of debate over aid in Congress. 

Since Congress passed and President Biden signed the national security supplemental in April that included Ukraine funding, the Pentagon has supplied much-needed equipment to the Ukrainians like ammunition and additional air defense interceptors. 

One of Ukraine's requests is additional Patriot air defense systems to intercept Russian missiles and drones targeting Ukraine's cities. The U.S. has previously provided one Patriot battery to Ukraine, and other allies have also provided additional air defense systems and munitions.  

On Thursday, Austin said he had no announcements about any U.S. promises but noted that the Netherlands is working to deliver Ukraine a Patriot air defense system. The Dutch government will contribute many core parts from its own stocks and ask others to contribute the rest, according to Austin. 

"We will continue to stand up to Putin's aggression, we will continue to find new options to get Ukraine the air defenses that it needs to defend its skies, and we will continue to move heaven and earth to get Ukraine what it needs to live in freedom," Austin said Thursday. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.