The United States announced this Friday a new military aid package to Ukraine worth 400 million dollars that includes for the first time armored vehicles that can launch bridgesallowing troops to cross rivers or other gaps, as Russian and Ukrainian forces remain entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnieper River.
The war had stalemate over the winter months, with Russia and Ukraine shooting at each other from across the river. Both sides are expected to launch offensives as temperatures warm.
This round of aid will be drawn from existing US weapons stockpiles so it can reach Ukraine more quickly. The US and its allies are trying to rush additional support to kyiv to better position it for the intensification of spring fighting.
The Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge is an 18-meter portable collapsible metal bridge that is carried on top of the body of a tank. Providing that system now could make it easier for Ukrainian troops to cross rivers to reach Russian forces.
As Ukraine also continues to suffer from ammunition shortages in the intense firefight, this aid package, like previous ones, includes thousands of spare shells, such as rockets for high mobility artillery systems and ammunition for 155mm howitzers. This package also includes demolition ammunition and equipment to clear obstacles and help Ukraine break through the entrenched lines.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, the United States has shipped more than $32 billion worth of weapons and equipment.
It is also roughly tripling the number of Ukrainian forces it is training in advanced combat tactics at a base in Germany to help them break through entrenched Russian lines. At the Grafenwoehr training area, Ukrainian forces are undergoing a five-week course preparing them to conduct advanced combined arms maneuvers with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M109 Paladins and Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers. The first 600 Ukrainian soldiers completed the course last month and 1,600 more are in training.
Help will also include spare parts and equipment for the maintenance and repair of vehicles.
The announcement follows a brief meeting on Thursday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting of senior Group of 20 diplomats in New Delhi. It was the highest-level in-person conversation between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But there was no indication of any move to ease the heightened tensions between the two nations.
Blinken said he had told Lavrov that the United States it would continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.
Lavrov, who did not mention speaking to Blinken when he gave a news conference after the meeting, told reporters that Moscow would continue to insist on its performance in Ukraine.
(By Tara Copp – AP)
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