Derek Chollet

Derek Chollet

The U.S. will send a delegation to Georgia and Moldova this week as Russia continues its assault on eastern Ukraine, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.

State Department Counselor Derek Chollet will lead the U.S. delegation.

In Moldova, he plans to meet with government officials and "reinforce U.S. support for Moldova's democracy, prosperity, and security," the State Department (DoS) said.

Chollet will then head to Georgia, where he "will meet with government, opposition, and civil society representatives for discussions on Russia's continuing occupation of parts of Georgia, on the Kremlin's brutal war against Ukraine, and on how to advance the people of Georgia's aspirations for a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, and Euro-Atlantic future," according to the DoS.

The delegation will also visit the U.K. following Georgia talks.

Back in Washington, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday met with Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, TURAN's correspondent reports.

They reaffirmed the strategic relationship between Turkey and the U.S. and discussed the two countries' many areas of bilateral cooperation, according to the DoS.

Sherman thanked Onal for Turkey's "strong and vocal support of Ukraine and discussed the need for solidarity among NATO Allies and partners in confronting Russia's premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine and in imposing real costs on Putin and his cronies" DoS said.

The move comes as Ankara on Monday sent out mixed messages further complicating Sweden and Finland´s historic bid to join NATO, saying it "cannot allow" them to become members of the alliance because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish militants.

Speaking to reporters, Pentagon spokesperson John Kurby said, Washington "still working to clarify Turkey's position on this":

"There's a process here, and I think we're going to work our way through that process," he said.

The Pentagon also announced on Monday that the 155 mm M777 towed howitzers supplied by the U.S. and other types supplied by ally and partner nations to Ukraine are "having a big impact on the battlefield"

"You're already seeing the Ukrainians being willing to go on the counteroffensive in the Donbas . They are taking back some towns that the Russians have taken in the past," a senior Defense official said,

For example, the Ukrainians are pushing Russian forces to the east and to the north of Kharkiv, Ukraine, the official said.

"We do believe that the howitzers ... are having an impact, particularly in Kharkiv. Now is that the only reason? I don't think we would go that far to say that, but we do believe that the systems they're getting — not just the U.S. systems but the systems from other countries — are absolutely helping them regain some momentum and to take back some territory," the official added.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday had a conversation with Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Reznikov told Austin that 74 of the 90 M777 artillery cannons that the U.S. supplied Ukraine are forward in the fight, providing long-range, indirect fire capability, the official said, noting that the tubes are being used not only in the Kharkiv area but elsewhere in the Donbas, per the Pentagon.

Currently, Russia's Putin has committed about 80% of his total battalion tactical groups to Ukraine. "And there's no question that of that 80%, he has lost quite a bit," the U.S. defense official said.

Putin still has a total of 140-plus BTG available to him, with 10 operational in Ukraine. The ones not in Ukraine do not appear to be near the periphery of Ukraine, the official noted.

On the Ukrainian side, they still have a majority of their combat power available to them, the official said.

"That is not to say that losses are not being sustained on both sides. They are, both in terms of forces but also in terms of equipment and weapon systems. It's a real gunfight in the Donbas, literally, with artillery being exchanged every single day and the Russians to fly airstrikes, the official said.

About 6 of those airstrikes hit a military training facility in Lviv, Ukraine, with minimal damage. It seems likely that those missiles could have been fired from submarines in the Black Sea, the official councluded.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.

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