The first shipments of the latest round of US military aid toincluding heavy weapons systems, arrived in the region this weekend, according to the Pentagon.
Recently approved $800 million in security assistance includes howitzer artillery systems, 40,000 artillery shells, armored personnel carriers, and other weapons.
A senior US defense official said Monday that four shipments of the aid package arrived in the region over the weekend, and a fifth is expected in the next 24 hours. The official did not say which weapons from the latest package fell first in the area.
On Tuesday, a senior defense official said aid to Ukraine could be deployed incredibly quickly: In just 48-72 hours, the process of obtaining necessary approvals, collecting and shipping equipment could be completed.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told a news conference 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. Then the Ukrainian instructors returned to Ukraine to train more troops.
According to Kirby, the training is not expected to last long, because the Ukrainians already know how to use artillery systems and only need to get acquainted with the American ones. The Ukrainians use 152 mm artillery systems and the United States provides 155 mm artillery systems.
The Russians turned their attention to the Donbass region after they failed to capture Kyiv. Kirby said Pentagon assessments are now underway, including “creating the conditions for more aggressive, overt, and larger ground exercises” in the east.
The impending battle in the east is expected to rely more on armored vehicles and artillery systems than in the north, as the terrain in southeastern Ukraine is flat and wide open.
“Artillery is a specific element that the Ukrainians have been asking for because of the specific fighting they expect to take place in the Donbass,” Kirby said on Monday. And we know that the Russians believe the same because we see them transfer artillery units to Donbass as well.
On Tuesday, Kirby noted that the fighting in Donbass would be marked by a “totally different kind of fighting,” which could lead to long-range shooting and artillery bombardment. He admitted that it is certainly possible in the future that the Ukrainians will want additional artillery systems and additional artillery shells and we will have these talks with them and, if there is a need, we will do everything in our power to meet this need. ”
Recently approved $800 million in aid to Ukraine also includes Switchblade drones, more Javelin anti-tank missiles and armored personnel carriers. In total, the United States has provided $2.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in late February.
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