Putin Reinforcing Kharkiv Region at 'Huge' Cost to Russia's Future: Blinken

Russian President Vladimir Putin sending soldiers into Ukraine's Kharkiv region will have long-term negative effects on his own country, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.

Ukraine's counterattack in Kharkiv has shown promise in recent days, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank. Ukrainian troops captured up to 150 square miles in the eastern region on Tuesday and Wednesday, advancing a minimum of 13 miles into Russian-controlled territory north of Izyum toward Kupyanskisk.

"There are a huge number of Russian forces that are in Ukraine and unfortunately, tragically, horrifically President Putin has demonstrated that he will throw a lot of people into this at huge cost to Russia, at huge cost to its future," Blinken said, according to The Moscow Times, an independent online newspaper based in Amsterdam.

Blinken spoke to reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels following a discussion with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

On Thursday Blinken visited Kyiv and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba.

"We discussed steadfast U.S. support to Ukraine, holding Russia accountable for atrocities committed, and how we can increase costs to Russia with our allies and partners," Blinken tweeted regarding his conversation with Kuleba.

It was Blinken's fifth trip to Ukraine and third since Russia invaded in February. Blinken, who told the traveling press that he met with Zelensky, said U.S. President Joe Biden "thought it would be particularly meaningful to come at this time as Ukraine is starting its counteroffensive in the south, also in the east."

Kharkiv Ukraine Blinken Putin Zelensky
Firefighters stand on the street in front of an aerial ladder truck near an apartment building hit by a Russian rocket attack on September 6, 2022, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv, Ukraine, on Thursday and met with NATO allies Friday to discuss the ongoing war. Oleksandr Lapshyn/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Kuleba thanked the U.S. for a new $2.2 billion aid package announced by Blinken that would benefit 18 of Ukraine's neighboring nations "potentially at risk of future Russian aggression." Some of those countries include the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Poland and Romania.

Congress must still approve the package, which would directly provide Ukraine with about $1 billion.

"Ukraine's recent battlefield successes prove that the aid provided by the U.S. and allies does make a change," Kuleba tweeted. "With lasting support, Ukraine will win and protect Europe from Russian menace."

One Russian source recently told a U.S. military analyst that Ukrainian soldiers are successfully breaching fortified Russian positions in order to get further behind enemy lines.

Russians "do not have heavy weapons and they simply cannot counteract Ukrainians," said the source, adding that combat in cities and urban sprawls have been strategically bypassed by Ukrainian forces.

Michael Kofman, Russia Studies director at the Center for Naval Analyses, tweeted on September 4 that Ukrainians' straining of Russian supply lines are forcing Russian forces into "an untenable position." The Dnieper River has become a line of demarcation for retreat in the region.

Zelensky said in his nightly address on Wednesday that "this week we have good news from the Kharkiv region," adding that "every citizen feels proud of our warriors."

On Thursday Stoltenberg attended a Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, hosted by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The meeting was related to security issues facing NATO allies and partners, according to a NATO event description.

Newsweek reached out to the defense ministries of Ukraine and Russia for comment.