The US races to support Ukraine’s spring counterattack

The US military is rushing to equip and train Ukrainian soldiers as the country plans to launch a major counter-offensive by the end of spring.

During an online meeting on March 15 of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that “Ukraine has no time to waste”.

“We must quickly and fully fulfill the commitments we have made, including providing armored vehicles, ensuring training for Ukrainian soldiers, providing spare parts and maintenance support as soon as possible.” Mr. Austin said.

US officials recently said they are focused on getting Ukraine ready to launch a large-scale spring counterattack, which is expected to take place in early May. “America’s aid packages were from 4-5 years ago. month toward what Ukraine needs for a counterattack,” according to a US official.

The United States and the West committed to deliver hundreds of main battle tanks and armored vehicles, as well as a number of bridging vehicles for heavy-duty river crossings. In addition to armored vehicles, Ukraine’s allies are transferring large quantities of 155 mm artillery shells and other ammunition that Kiev determines is in urgent need.

Ukrainian soldiers on the road near the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk province on February 11.  Photo: Reuters.

Ukrainian soldiers on the road near the city of Bakhmut, Donetsk province on February 11. Image: Reuters.

More than 600 Ukrainian soldiers in February completed a five-week training program in Germany, in which sniper, medical, and weaponry skills combined with US-made M2 ​​Bradley and Stryker armor. These people have returned to the battlefield, while hundreds of other Ukrainian soldiers are taking part in a second round of training.

U.S. officials also urged Ukraine to conserve shells and select firing targets more carefully. They are particularly interested in these things at Bakhmut, where both Ukrainian and Russian forces are rapidly increasing their artillery fire.

“Some Pentagon officials think Ukraine burns bullets too quickly,” said former US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, once the commander of the US Army in Europe. “These officials need to remember that Ukraine is in a conflict with an adversary that has a huge advantage in ammunition.”

US Defense Department officials say the Ukrainian military is using more than 90,000 155 mm artillery shells per month. To ensure Ukraine has enough ammunition for the next phase of hostilities, the US has sought to increase domestic production, but it is a time-consuming process because of the need to prepare and hire workers for the home lines. machine.

Before the war in Ukraine broke out, the US could produce about 13,000 155 mm rounds per month. That number has grown to about 20,000 rounds this year, and the US hopes to increase that to 50,000 rounds next year.

The US military is also withdrawing its ammunition depots in several locations such as Israel, South Korea, Germany and Kuwait to transfer to Ukraine. These are the stockpiles where the US keeps everything from trucks to ambulances to support its forces around the world.

For now, the Biden administration remains confident that the Bakhmut battleground will not wear down Ukraine’s ammunition and troops to the point where it cannot launch a counterattack in the spring. But the longer the battle goes on, the more likely that is to change.

“Ukraine is suffering. I don’t mean to downplay the casualties they’re taking. But Russian casualties are on a larger scale,” said John F. Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council. White, said earlier this week.

The Russian-Ukrainian War Department.  Graphics: WP.

The Russian-Ukrainian War Department. Graphics: WP.

U.S. officials say Ukraine has not yet decided on a counter-attack plan, but has two basic options: advance from Kherson toward Crimea or cut off the corridor on the peninsula connecting the peninsula to western Russia.

However, the US considers the first option unrealistic when Russia has fortified its defenses on the east bank of the Dnieper River, and Ukraine does not have enough manpower for an amphibious operation to break through the enemy’s defenses in Kherson province. .

In addition to arms transfers and training, senior US generals recently participated in a field exercise with the Ukrainian commander in Wiesbaden, Germany to assist them in the next phase of hostilities.

The US has repeatedly refused to transfer F-16 fighters to Ukraine, but is studying other support options such as equipping air-to-air missiles on MiG-29s and assessing Ukrainian pilot skills.

The Pentagon insists that Ukraine has full control over when and where to launch a new offensive, deciding whether it should remain in Bakhmut or redeploy forces.

“President Zelensky will evaluate what is more important,” US Defense Secretary Austin said on March 15. However, he stressed that “the US is creating combat power at a level that will give Ukraine the opportunity to change the battlefield at any point in the future.”

Nguyen Tien (Theo Politician, WSJ)

Leave a Comment