The US announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine on Friday that for the first time includes armored vehicles that can launch bridges – allowing troops to cross rivers or other obstacles. -while Russian and Ukrainian forces remain entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnieper River.
The war largely slowed to a grinding stalemate during the winter months, with Russia and Ukraine firing at each other from across the river. Both sides are expected to launch offensives as the temperature heats up.
This round of aid will be drawn from existing US arms stockpiles so that it can reach Ukraine more quickly. The US and allies are trying to rush more support to Kyiv to better position it for intensified fighting in the spring.
The Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge is a portable, 60-foot (18-meter) folding metal bridge mounted on top of a tank. Providing that system now will make it easier for Ukrainian troops to cross rivers to reach Russian forces.
Since Ukraine also continues to face severe fighting munitions shortages, this aid package, like the previous one, includes thousands of spare rounds, such as rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and 155mm Howitzer rounds. This package also includes demolition munitions and equipment for clearing obstacles to help Ukraine break through dug-in lines.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, the US has sent more than $32 billion in weapons and equipment.
The US is also estimated to have tripled the number of Ukrainian forces it is training in advanced warfare tactics at a base in Germany, to help them break through entrenched Russian lines. At the Grafenwoehr training area, Ukrainian forces will run a five-week course that prepares them to conduct advanced combined arms maneuvers with Bradley fighting vehicles, M109 Paladins and Stryker armored personnel carriers. The first 600 Ukrainian troops completed the course last month and 1,600 more are in training.
The aid will also include spare parts and equipment for vehicle maintenance and repair.
The announcement comes after a brief meeting Thursday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a gathering of top diplomats from the Group of 20 country in New Delhi. This is the highest level of personal talks between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But there is no sign of any movement to ease the severe tension between the two countries.
Blinken said he told Lavrov that the US would continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary.
Lavrov, who did not mention speaking to Blinken when he held a press conference after the meeting, told reporters that Moscow would continue its actions in Ukraine.
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