The US government is providing Ukraine with more billions in military aid to ward off Russia’s war of aggression.
The US Department of Defense announced a package worth about 2.5 billion US dollars (2.3 billion euros). According to the Pentagon, for the first time it contains 90 wheeled infantry fighting vehicles of the “Stryker” type, a further 59 infantry fighting vehicles of the “Bradley” type and more than 50 mine-resistant armored vehicles.
No “Abrams” included
The country is also scheduled to receive additional ammunition for its rocket launcher artillery systems (HIMARS), eight Avenger anti-aircraft systems, tens of thousands of artillery shells and about 2000 anti-tank missiles. The package does not include main battle tanks of the “Abrams” type.
Washington had already announced a first delivery of 50 “Bradley” tanks last week. Together with the other Bradleys and the “Stryker” vehicles that have now been announced, two complete brigades could be equipped, the Pentagon said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked US President Joe Biden “for another powerful defense support package,” he said on Twitter. The “Bradley” tanks, armored vehicles of the “Stryker” type and the Avenger air defense system announced by Washington are an “important aid in our fight against the aggressor”.
Second largest single parcel from USA for Ukraine
It is the second largest single package of its kind from the USA to Ukraine to date. The announcement comes just ahead of a US-led coalition meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Rhineland-Palatinate, where defense ministers and senior military officials from numerous countries will discuss further support for Russia-invaded Ukraine.
A Pentagon spokeswoman emphasized again that a delivery of the heavy battle tank “Abrams” is currently not sensible from the US point of view. The Abrams uses jet fuel and is difficult to maintain. The British Challenger and German “Leopard” tanks, on the other hand, are fueled with more readily available diesel, are more maneuverable and easier to maintain.
With the new package, the US has provided or pledged more than $27.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of President Joe Biden’s administration, according to the US Department of Defense, more than $26.7 billion of which since the start of the Russian war of aggression at the end of February. The United States is considered Ukraine’s most important ally in the defense against the Russian invasion.
Battle tank debate
The “Abrams” had been discussed after it was reported that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had apparently made the delivery of the US battle tank a condition for a possible dispatch of German battle tanks. Most recently, Poland and other EU and NATO countries had agreed to provide the Ukrainian army with “Leopard” tanks made in Germany. However, the federal government would have to give the green light for this.
Poland apparently does not rule out the delivery of “Leopard 2” tanks to Ukraine even without the consent of Germany as the manufacturing country. Poland is ready for such non-standard action, Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski told private radio station RMF FM. When asked if Poland would deliver against Germany’s resistance, he replies: “I think if there is strong resistance, we will be ready to take even such non-standard measures … but let’s not prejudge the facts.”
CIA boss Burns visits Kyiv
A US official confirmed a visit by US intelligence chief William Burns to Kyiv. The CIA chief met representatives of the Ukrainian secret service and President Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital. According to a Washington Post report, Burns gave Zelenskyy US assessments of Russia’s alleged military plans in the coming months. According to the newspaper, the meeting took place at the end of last week.
The newspaper relies on US officials and unspecified informed circles. “Director Burns visited Kyiv, where he met with Ukrainian intelligence officials and President Zelenskyy, and reiterated our continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression,” an unnamed US official was quoted as saying.
Burns had already warned in January last year of a Russian attack on Kiev airport right at the start of the invasion. According to the newspaper, this warning thwarted an important part of the Russian operation against Kyiv. Details of the content of the recent talks were not given.