National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday said that Russia’s missile strike in western Ukraine signals Russian President Vladimir Putin’s frustration with the progress troops have made on its invasion of the country.
On Sunday morning, Russian missiles struck a military training base in western Ukraine near the country’s border with Poland. The base, known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, served as a hub for Western arms shipments, and for Western forces to train Ukrainian fighters. The airstrike killed at least 35 and left more than 100 injured, according to the Associated Press.
The strike followed Russia’s threat to target foreign weapon shipments sent by the U.S. and other countries assisting Ukraine. Russia’s attack in western Ukraine on Sunday differed from previous assaults, which mostly targeted eastern and southern areas of Ukraine.
During an interview on CNN, Sullivan made clear that Russia’s assault on various areas of Ukraine “does not come as a surprise” to U.S. intelligence and the national security community because it was part of Putin’s plans from the beginning.
Sullivan said that the extension of Russia’s attack to western Ukraine demonstrates Putin’s “frustration” with the progress Russian troops have made thus far in its invasion of Ukraine. Since their invasion began more than two weeks ago, Russian forces have run into roadblocks, with stronger than expected Ukrainian resistance that has the support of Western nations. Russian forces have instead descended upon several cities and attacked them with strikes.
“What it shows is that Vladimir Putin is frustrated by the fact that his forces are not making the kind of progress that he thought that they would make against major cities including Kyiv, that he’s expanding the number of targets, that he’s lashing out and he’s trying to cause damage in every part of the country,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan reiterated President Biden’s commitment to not having U.S. military forces operating in Ukraine, but that the administration will “defend every inch of NATO territory” as it seeks to provide military assistance to Ukrainian fighters.
Asked about a potential diplomatic solution to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sullivan said that the President has been in touch with Ukrainian President Zelensky on a regular basis. Sullivan said that ultimately, it is up to Ukraine to make its own decisions regarding any diplomacy going forward.
“From the United States’ perspective, we’re here to stay in touch with all the key players, as you mentioned, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, others, but ultimately to support the Ukrainians,” Sullivan said. “And, as things stand right now, Vladimir Putin does not look like he is prepared to stop the onslaught. And so we will continue to escalate the pressure against him and continue to support the Ukrainians as they fight to defend their territory.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman shared a similar sentiment during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”
Sherman said that pressure from sanctions has prompted Russian diplomats to show “some signs of a willingness to have real, serious negotiations.” However, Sherman noted that Putin is still “intent on destroying Ukraine.”