U.S. prepping major military package for Ukraine

Date:

The reluctance is due to the logistical and maintenance challenges of the tanks, not concerns that their transfer could escalate the conflict, one of the US officials said. This person noted that the US helped Ukraine acquire Soviet-era tanks and supports the British decision to send a dozen of its Challenger 2 tanks.

The package will likely include some Strykers, an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle built by General Dynamics Land Systems, as well as small-diameter ground-launched bombs, which have a range of about 100 miles, two of the people said. POLITICO first reported last week that the Pentagon was considering sending Strykers in the upcoming tranche of aid. Reuters first reported that small diameter bombs made by Boeing were under discussion.

This package does not include the army’s long-range tactical missile system that can reach deep behind Russian lines in Crimea or Donbas, two of the people said. Despite pleas from Kiev, the Biden administration has refused to send long-range munitions for fear of provoking Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The administration believes Ukraine “can change the dynamics on the battlefield” and repel Russian invaders without those missiles, an offensive weapon that can fly up to 300 kilometers, said Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy aide.

“Our verdict so far has been that the juice isn’t really working under the pressure on the ATACMs. You never know, that judgment may change at some point, but we’re not there yet on the ATACMs,” Kahl told reporters after a trip to Kiev this weekend.

The White House has not yet signed the package, which is still being finalized and could change this week. But officials expect an announcement around the regular meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base on Friday, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley will meet with their counterparts to discuss new aid to Ukraine.

The final meeting comes as Kiev sounds the alarm that Moscow is preparing for a major new offensive to take the capital. Ukrainian intelligence officials have warned the Kremlin of a new mobilization of up to 500,000 conscripts as Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises on Monday.

Pressured by Kiev to send heavier weapons in recent weeks, Western countries have drastically increased their pledges for new armor, intended to help Ukraine build new armored units for hard fighting this spring and summer. Late last year, the US and the Netherlands agreed to spend $90 million to upgrade about 90 Soviet-era T-72 tanks operated by the Czech Republic for shipment to Ukraine. Germany has also pledged its Marder infantry fighting vehicle and France its AMX-10 RC, a wheeled system built around a turret-mounted 105mm gun. Canada will also provide 200 Canadian-made personnel carriers, Defense Minister Anita Anand announced on Wednesday during a visit to Kiev.

This month, the US announced it would send 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, a tracked armored vehicle with an autocannon, machine gun and TOW missiles. The administration has already provided thousands of combat vehicles, including Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles used to move troops on the battlefield.

In a sign that the US sees the need as urgent, senior Biden administration officials visited Kiev over the weekend leading up to the meeting in Germany. Jon Finer, White House deputy national security adviser; Kahl, the secretary of defense for policy; and Wendy Sherman, the deputy secretary of state, met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials.

“I salute all that the Ukrainian people have done to continue to survive and persevere. Frankly, that is why Putin will lose, because his theory of victory is that we will give up. @POTUS & @SecDef have been clear: we will stay with the Ukrainian people as long as it takes,” Kahl tweeted after the visit.

But Ukraine still advocates Western tanks on top of British Challengers. A handful of countries have indicated their willingness to send their German-made main battle tanks, but are awaiting a decision from Berlin to give the green light to the re-export. The Leopards are seen as a better option than the Abrams due to the huge number already in use in Europe. Leopards are also considered easier to maintain and use less fuel.

While German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who replaced Christine Lambrecht this week, is expected to meet with Austin on Thursday, it is possible that a decision has already been made higher up in the German government on whether or not to approve the transfers.

Both Poland and Finland have said they are willing to send some of their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but no public move has been made to make that transfer seem imminent. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that he is not yet ready to make a decision about the Leopard tanks in his army’s warehouses. Other countries deploying the German tanks, such as Spain and Norway, have not publicly commented on the matter, although Spain was willing to send some leopards last summer.

“We believe that the provision of modern tanks will greatly aid and enhance the Ukrainians’ ability to fight where they are fighting now and fight more effectively in the future,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday, referring to European tanks. He declined to comment on an upcoming aid package from the US

This week’s Ramstein meeting promises to be one of the most important monthly meetings of defense ministers as the 50 countries discuss how to prepare Ukraine for more heavy months of fighting. In addition to the recent UK announcement of Challenger tanks and the new US package, Finland is expected to unveil its largest military aid shipment to Ukraine to date, according to a person familiar with Helsinki thinking. Finland does not disclose its contributions, but has sent artillery, small arms and winter clothing in the past.

Western leaders have been cautious about publicly pushing Germany too hard on the tank issue. Supporting Ukraine is going to “ensure each of us can do what he can,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. “And our ability to support will vary from country to country.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. started new training programs for Ukraine this week: a comprehensive course to improve the combat skills of Ukraine’s armed forces in Germany, and training in the Patriot missile system at Fort Sill, Okla. Ukraine will receive three Patriot batteries, one defense system designed to shoot down missiles and aircraft: one from the US and one from Germany and the Netherlands.

Before going to the Ramstein meeting, Milley stopped by to see the training in Germany, which expands the pipeline to 500 Ukrainian soldiers per month and includes instructions on how to coordinate infantry maneuvers with artillery support.

Alexander Ward and Erin Banco contributed to this report from Davos, Switzerland.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Share post:

Popular

More like this
Related