The White House warned Monday that Russia is shifting its strategy to attacks on the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine in what is expected to be a protracted new stage of the conflict.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Russia will refocus on the Donbas and Luhansk regions, two separatist territories supported by Moscow. The region is friendlier to Moscow, thus ensuring Russia could rack up a few easy military victories to push a narrative of military success.
“Russia could then use any tactical successes it achieves to propagate a narrative of progress and mask or discount or downplay prior military failures,” he said at the White House press briefing.
At the same time, Russia will likely continue to launch air and missile strikes across Ukraine, including in Kyiv and other populated areas. Mr. Sullivan warned that those attacks will continue to “include wanton and brazen attacks on civilian targets.”
“Russia’s goal, in the end, is to weaken Ukraine as much as possible,” Mr. Sullivan said.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly five weeks ago, its military has stalled outside of Kyiv and has failed to hold other major cities or topple the government.
Russia last week pledged to move its troops away from Kyiv, but President Biden and others remain skeptical that Moscow is scaling back its military aggression.