NEWS US prepares major military plans for Ukraine

US prepares major military plans for Ukraine

One U.S. official said the reluctance to do so was due to the logistical and maintenance challenges of the tanks, not concerns that their transfer might escalate the conflict. The person noted that the United States helped Ukraine acquire Soviet-era tanks and supported Britain’s decision to send more than a dozen Challenger 2 tanks.

The plan could include some Stryker tanks, an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle made by General Dynamics Land Systems, and ground-launched small-diameter bombs with 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 aid. Reuters first reported that a Boeing-made small diameter bomb was being discussed.

The package will not include the long-range Army Tactical Missile System, which can penetrate deep behind Russian lines in Crimea or the Donbass, according to two of the people familiar with the matter. Despite Kyiv’s plea, the Biden administration has been reluctant to send the long-range munitions for fear of angering Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Colin Carr, the Pentagon’s top policy official, said the administration believed Ukraine could “change the dynamic on the battlefield” and repel Russian aggressors without the missiles, an offensive weapon that can fly 190 miles.

“Our judgment so far is that Juice doesn’t really play ATACM. You never know, that judgment may change at some point, but we’re not on ATACM yet,” Carr said after visiting Kyiv this weekend. told reporters.

The White House has yet to sign off on the package, which is still being finalized and could change this week. But officials expect the Ukrainian Defense Liaison Group to hold a regular meeting on Friday at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will join their counterparts Meet to discuss new Ukraine aid.

The latest meeting came as Kyiv sounded the alarm that Moscow was preparing to launch a major new offensive to take the capital. Ukrainian intelligence officials warned the Kremlin of plans to mobilize as many as 500,000 recruits, while Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises on Monday.

In recent weeks, under pressure from Kyiv to send heavy weapons, Western countries have dramatically increased their pledges of new armor, aimed at helping Ukraine build new armor to fight tough battles this spring and summer. Late last year, the U.S. and the Netherlands agreed to spend $90 million to upgrade some 90 Soviet-era T-72 tanks operated by the Czech Republic for shipment to Ukraine. Germany is also committed to its Marder infantry fighting vehicle, and France to 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 during a visit to Kyiv on Wednesday.

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

A visit by senior Biden administration officials to Kyiv the weekend before the German meeting suggested the U.S. felt the need to do so. White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Fenner; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Carr; Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior officials.

“I salute what the Ukrainian people have done to continue to survive and endure. Frankly, this is why Putin will lose because his theory of victory is that we will give up. @America president & @SecDef It has been made clear: as long as the need arises, we will be with the people of Ukraine,” Karl tweeted after the visit.

But Ukraine is still begging Western tanks to overtake British challengers. A handful of countries have offered to send German-made main battle tanks but are awaiting a decision from Berlin to approve re-exports. The Panther was considered a better option than the Abrams, as Europe already used a large number of them. Leopards are also considered easier to maintain and consume less fuel.

While German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who replaced Christine Lambrecht this week, is expected to meet Austin on Thursday, a decision may have already been taken at the top of the German government on whether to approve the transfer.

Both Poland and Finland have said they are willing to send some Leopard tanks to Ukraine, but have not publicly indicated that such a transfer is imminent. However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week that he was not yet ready to make a decision on the Leopard tanks in his army depots. Other countries that deploy German tanks, such as Spain and Norway, have yet to comment publicly on the matter, although Spain offered to send some Panther tanks last summer.

“We believe that providing modern tanks will greatly assist and improve the ability of Ukrainians to fight where they are now and to fight more effectively in the future,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday of European tanks .” He declined to comment on any upcoming U.S. aid package

This week’s Ramstein meeting is expected to be one of the most important at the monthly gathering of defense ministers as the 50 nations discuss how to prepare Ukraine for a tougher fight. Alongside the recent British announcements of Challenger tanks and a new U.S. package, Finland is also expected to unveil its largest military aid to Ukraine to date, according to a person familiar with Helsinki’s thinking. Finland has not made its contribution public, but has sent artillery, small arms and winter clothes in the past.

Western leaders have been wary of publicly pressing Germany too hard on the tank issue. Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that standing up for Ukraine was “to make sure each of us can do what we can”. “Our support capabilities vary by country.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. this week launched new training programs for Ukraine: an expanded curriculum to improve Ukrainian troops’ combat skills in Germany, and Patriot missile system training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Ukraine will receive three Patriot batteries, a defense system designed to shoot down missiles and aircraft: one from the United States, one from Germany and the Netherlands.

Before heading to the Ramstein meeting, Milley stopped by training in Germany that is expanding its pipeline to 500 Ukrainian soldiers a month, including instruction on how to coordinate infantry maneuver with artillery support.

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

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