Pentagon: Most of Russia's military offensives 'remain stalled'

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By Euronews  with AP
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Pentagon, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, in Washington   -  Copyright  AP Photo

A senior American official at the Pentagon in Washington says that nearly all of Russia's military offensives in Ukraine remain stalled, after making little progress over the weekend. 

The defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russian troops were still about 15km from the centre of Ukraine's capital Kyiv. 

The Pentagon official also noted that Russia has launched more than 900 missiles since the start of the conflict in February, but that Ukraine's airspace is still contested. 

The assessment of the current situation with Russian forces in Ukraine comes as US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin arrives in Europe on Tuesday for meetings with NATO counterparts in Brussels. 

He also will travel to two Slovakia, which borders Ukraine, and Bulgaria, which does not. After a NATO meeting last month, Austin visited two other allies on the eastern flank, Poland and Lithuania.

US military buildup in Europe

In the past two months, the US military presence in Europe has jumped from about 80,000 troops to about 100,000. 

That's almost as many as there were in 1997 when NATO began an expansion, which Vladimir Putin says threatens threatens Russia and must be reversed. 

By comparison, in 1991, the year the Soviet Union dissolved, the United States had 305,000 troops in Europe, including 224,000 in Germany alone, according to Pentagon records. The number then dropped steadily, reaching 101,000 in 2005 and about 64,000 as recently as 2020.

This year's U.S. troop additions are billed as temporary, but there's no certainty how long they'll stay. They include an armored brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, totaling about 4,000 soldiers, to Germany, and a similar-size infantry brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, to Poland. 

Numerous Army headquarters units also have been sent to Poland and Germany. Austin also sent F-35A fighter jets to NATO’s eastern flank and Apache attack helicopters to the Baltic states.