The U.S. announced a $3.1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine on Friday, including for the first time dozens of heavy infantry vehicles.
Of the total, $2.85 billion will come directly from existing U.S. weapons stocks, including 50 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 500 anti-missiles, according to a press release. Ukrainian officials expect Russia to conduct a second mobilization and renewed offensive in the coming months, according to Reuters.
Bradleys will become the first armored vehicle to feature in a weapons package for Ukraine, although Biden previously approved paying for the Czech Republic to refurbish 45 ex-Soviet tanks to transfer to Ukraine. The Bradley is an infantry fighting vehicle equipped with a small gun, too underpowered to meet the Army classification of a tank, of which the Army has hundreds in storage, according to Task and Purpose.
Bradleys are “a significant improvement compared to what the U.S. has already provided” and will help Ukraine integrate infantry and tank divisions in maneuvers to push back Russian forces, Bradley Bowman, director of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Giving the Bradleys to Ukraine is also a sign that the U.S. defense community trusts Ukraine with this capability,” Luke Coffey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the DCNF.
The package also includes the first radar-guided Sea Sparrow missiles. Ukrainian troops have already discovered modifications that allow their Soviet-era ground launchers to fire the Sea Sparrow, Politico reported, citing officials familiar with the matter.
News of the U.S. imminent aid package on Thursday coincided with announcements from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to transfer Marder fighting vehicles and an additional Patriot air defense system, according to a joint U.S.-Germany statement.
French President Emmanuel Macron promised to deliver AMX-10 RC armored reconnaissance to Ukraine in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Wednesday, France24 reported, citing an aide to Macron.
“It is the first time that Western-designed tanks are supplied to the Ukrainian armed forces,” the aide told France24.
Neither country specified the number of fighting vehicles intended for Ukraine’s troops, but Scholz said Germany would send “all Marders that are operational,” according to Reuters.
German officials pressured Scholz to upgrade support for Ukraine after France’s announcement, but Germany, sensitive to how Russia may interpret the transfer of heavy weaponry, has preferred to coordinate arms deliveries with allied countries, Reuters reported.
Ukraine has continued to request heavier, more powerful tanks. However, the latest plans for arming Ukraine signal an increasing openness to providing equipment tailored toward offensive operations, Coffey told the DCNF.
“It’s a stark shift from this idea that we’re only providing defensive weapons,” Coffey said.
The U.S. and Western partners are on a “trajectory” of being willing to supply more equipment that will “enable the Ukrainians to be more effective on the battlefield, as opposed to just surviving on the battlefield or just defending on the battlefield,” Coffey added.
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