US not ‘hand-wringing’ over deadly Ukraine rocket attack on Russians: W.House
The United States is not “hand-wringing” over the mass casualties of Russian soldiers in a Ukrainian attack reportedly using US-supplied artillery, a senior White House official said Wednesday.
The New Year’s strike hit a building in the occupied eastern Ukrainian town of Makiivka being used as a barracks. Russia has officially conceded there were 89 deaths — already an unusually high number — while Ukraine’s military estimates that nearly 400 soldiers died.
Following criticism in Russia over the use of US-delivered weaponry by Ukrainian defenders, including in the Makiivka strike, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia is to blame.
There is no “hand-wringing by the administration at all. This is a war. They have been invaded and they (Ukrainians) are striking back and defending themselves,” Kirby said. “Russian soldiers in their territory are legitimate targets for Ukrainian military action, period.”
Kirby would not give a US estimate of the casualties in an attack that all sides agree was unusually fatal, even by the bloody standards of the now more than 10-month-old Russian invasion.
“I’m not going to get into the casualty count. It is war. And it is in a vicious area of fighting right now. And war is a bloody affair,” he said.
Kirby also declined to comment on the role in the attack of the advanced HIMARS multiple rocket weapon.
HIMARS — the acronym stands for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System — deliver devastatingly accurate rockets and are credited with transforming the Ukrainian army’s ability to take on the bigger, more heavily armed Russian forces.
“We are and will continue to provide them the kinds of systems and assistance that they need to defend themselves. And yes, that has included HIMARS in the past, and it could very well include more HIMARS going forward,” Kirby said.
“Let’s be just real crystal clear here. This is a war by Russia on Ukraine,” Kirby said.
He dismissed as “a bunch of B.S.” President Vladimir Putin’s claims that Russia’s war is really against the United States, the West in general or an “existential” threat.
“This is about a Russian invasion of Ukraine. And Russia is the one who started it.
Russia is the one who’s visited violence on the Ukrainian people,” Kirby said.