‘A profound shift’: US boosts supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine

Before Russian forces began to withdraw from Kyiv around the beginning of the month, U.S. war policy seemed to aim to gently thread a geopolitical needle: strengthen Ukraine’s defenses without provoking a conflict between NATO and the Kremlin.

In the past two weeks, however, current and past U.S. officials say much of the caution in the early stages of the war has hardly been erased. Joe Biden, President of the United States, has become much sharper in his path rhetoricAccuses Vladimir Putin of “genocide” and calls for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal.

Nowhere is the change in policy more noticeable than in the weapons the US has begun sending to Ukrainian forces.

Only a month after opposition to a Polish plan to provide MiG-29 Fighter jets for the Ukrainian Air Force, the White House has become a vintage, facilitates the supply of spare parts to Kiev to return 20 fighter jets to the air – and significantly expanded the range of heavy weapons it provides for combat.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zalansky, who has been campaigning relentlessly to pressure the U.S. and its allies to supply more and heavier weapons as the conflict escalates, said he would meet in Ukraine on Sunday with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Linken and Lloyd Austin. And the State Department did not immediately return requests for response.

“This is a government that has been very reluctant in the not-too-distant past to provide equipment that will give Ukrainians a capability that could be provocative to the Russians,” said Ian Berezhinsky, who headed NATO’s Pentagon policy during the Bush administration.

Berezhinsky noted that six weeks ago the administration did not provide armored vehicles, long-range hobbits or helicopters. “This is a very clear and profound change.”

Officials say the change in policy is the result of a number of factors, including a desire to do more to help Kiev following evidence of atrocities in areas occupied by Russian troops before retreating from the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital.

There was also a reassessment of the threat posed by Russia’s nuclear arsenal, a sword that Putin shook at the start of the war, but one that analysts now believe is unlikely to be deployed. And the US is trying to respond to the changing needs of the Ukrainian army as it prepares to repel a renewed attack by Moscow in the Donbas region in the east of the country.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zalansky, photographed before the US Congress last month, has been running a relentless campaign to pressure the West to supply more and heavier weapons © Pool / AFP via Getty Images

The US opposed a Polish plan to supply MiG-29 fighter jets to the Ukrainian Air Force, but has since eased the supply of spare parts to Kiev to return 20 fighter jets to the air © Reuters

One of the most important triggers for change, say current and past officials, was the surprisingly effective performance of the Ukrainian military, which surpassed even the most optimistic expectations of military analysts inside and outside the Pentagon.

“At first, it was estimated that the Ukrainian military could not last more than a few weeks,” said Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “If this is your assessment, of course, the equipment you are going to send is different than if you expect a war that will last months and years.”

The change is evident in the rapid pace of arms shipments making their way from the U.S. to Ukraine. Every day, eight to 10 cargo flights, most operated by the U.S., land near the country’s western borders, carrying increasingly heavy weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they said. American factors. Defense sources describe a process in which equipment, after approval of launch, arrives in Ukraine within 48 to 72 hours.

Of the $ 3.4 billion in lethal aid the U.S. has pledged since the start of the war, the U.S. has pledged nearly half of it, or $ 1.6 billion, since last week. “I can not think of another case, certainly not in the middle of a war, that does it as fast as we do it,” said a former senior U.S. military commander.

It took the US and its allies time to figure out what types of systems they could provide without eliciting a response from Moscow, but so far Russia has not validated any shipments. Senior NATO official.

Over the past week or so, the U.S. has shifted its focus to supplying weapons that appear more offensive, such as heavy artillery, helicopters, armored vehicles and deadly drones. In contrast, Washington’s first aid package to Ukraine at the start of the conflict, valued at $ 350 million, included anti-armor, small arms and ammunition and body armor.

Biden maintained two of the red lines he drew at the beginning of the invasion: no American troops on the ground in Ukraine, nor a NATO-enforced flight zone that could drag the military alliance into a direct confrontation with Russia.

But there were some important changes in the margins. American soldiers begin training Ukrainians in Europe. And the US has sent a Patriot system to Slovakia, which will be operated by American troops, so that Bratislava can send its S-300 air defense system to Ukraine.

And although the U.S. has opposed Polish MiG-29 proposal, John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, signaled earlier this week that Washington is now supporting an unnamed state’s efforts to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

There is no sign that the U.S. plans to give up any time soon. Biden said on Thursday that he would ask Congress for more money next week “to maintain an uninterrupted flow of weapons and ammunition for the brave Ukrainian fighters.”

Emphasizing the strategy is Washington’s assessment that the conflict will last for months if not longer.

“What do you see.

‘A profound shift’: US boosts supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine Source link ‘A profound shift’: US boosts supply of heavy weapons to Ukraine

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