The first shipments of the latest round of US military aid to UkraineWhich includes heavier weapon systems, began arriving in the region over the weekend, according to the Pentagon.
Recently approved $800 million in security assistance includes howitzer artillery systems, 40,000 artillery rounds, armored personnel vehicles and other weapons.
A senior US defense official said Monday that four shipments of the aid package arrived in the region over the weekend, with a fifth expected within the next 24 hours. The official did not say which weapons from the last package landed in the area first.
On Tuesday, a senior defense official said aid to Ukraine could be deployed incredibly quickly: in as little as 48-72 hours, the process of obtaining necessary approvals, collecting and shipping equipment could be completed.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing that the Defense Department expects to start training Ukrainian trainers outside Ukraine on how to use the howitzers provided by the United States in the coming days. Ukrainian trainers will then return to Ukraine to train more troops.
According to Kirby, the training is not expected to take long because the Ukrainians already know how to use artillery systems and only need to familiarize themselves with the American systems. The Ukrainians use 152 mm artillery systems, and the United States offers 155 mm artillery systems.
The Russians refocused their attention on the Donbass region after their failure to capture Kyiv. The Pentagon estimates that they are now conducting “staging operations,” which include “creating the conditions for more aggressive, overt, and larger ground maneuvers” in the east, according to Kirby.
The imminent battle in the east is expected to rely more on armored vehicles and artillery systems than in the north because the terrain in southeastern Ukraine is flat and wide open.
“Artillery is a specific element that the Ukrainians have requested because of the specific fighting they expect to take place in the Donbass,” Kirby said on Monday. And we know that the Russians also believe the same because we see them moving artillery units into Donbass as well.
On Tuesday, Kirby noted that the fighting in Donbass would be marked by “a completely different kind of fighting,” which could entail long-range shooting and artillery bombardment. He acknowledged that in the future, “it is certainly possible that the Ukrainians will want additional artillery systems and additional artillery shells and we will have these talks with them and we will, if there is such a need, we will do everything we can meet.”
The recently approved $800 million in assistance to Ukraine also includes Switchblade drones, more Javelin anti-tank missiles, and armored personnel carriers. Overall, the United States has provided $2.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion at the end of February.
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