Washington stands by ‘battlefield surprises’ for Moscow remark

Aprilia Rine

Washington stands by ‘battlefield surprises’ for Moscow remark

Kiev can still achieve victories, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller has insisted

Washington believes that Kiev will produce “some nice surprises on the battlefield” for Russia, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The phrase was used by outgoing Under Secretary Victoria Nuland during a trip to Kiev in January, expressing confidence in the capabilities of the Ukrainian army. Russia has since pushed it out of the strategically important city of Avdeevka in Donbass and has continued to advance, according to reports from the front line.

Miller was asked whether the US government shares this sentiment more than a month after it was expressed by Nuland. “We believe that Ukraine has a plan that they can execute to achieve victories on the battlefield,” he replied.

The spokesman cited Ukrainian claims that it sank a Russian patrol ship in the Black Sea this week as an example of Kiev’s successes. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the reports.

This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Nuland’s pending departure from her post. He thanked his aide for having shaped Washington’s policy on Ukraine and Russia for many years.

Nuland is largely perceived in Russia as the ‘midwife’ of the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev, which paved the way for the current Ukraine conflict. Commenting on her trip to the country this year, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked that as a rule, these types of visits do not “bring anything good.”

Shortly after her trip to Kiev, President Vladimir Zelensky sacked Valery Zaluzhny as Ukraine’s top general, part of a wider overhaul of the military leadership. The Russian liberation of Avdeevka took place on the watch of Zaluzhny’s replacement, General Aleksandr Syrsky.

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