The US Department of Defense on Friday announced a new $775 million arms package for Ukraine aimed at helping Kyiv turn the tide and begin regaining territory occupied by Russian forces.
The Russian offensive that began Feb. 24 has been halted, a senior Pentagon official told reporters, and the new package includes a range of precision missiles, anti-armour weapons, surveillance drones, artillery and demining equipment that could boost Ukraine. offensive operations.
“You see a complete and utter lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield,” the official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.
The new package, the 19 since the start of the war, comes as Ukrainian forces have used precision-guided weapons supplied by allies to strike deep behind enemy lines, demolishing dozens of weapons depots and centers of Russian command since mid-June.
More recently, the Russians suffered significant damage to an airfield and other facilities in the heart of occupied Crimea, and this week an arms depot nearly 50 kilometers (30 miles) inside the Russian province of Belgorod exploded.
Defense experts say the incidents could indicate Ukraine’s ability to land blows far behind Russian defenses and that Kyiv is ready to go on the offensive, six months into the war.
The new weapons list appears to be “for when the Ukrainians are ready to attempt a major breakthrough,” defense strategy expert Phillips O’Brien wrote on Twitter.
More Javelins, surveillance drones
The package includes rockets for Himars systems used to strike Russian depots and HARM air-to-surface missiles that focus on radar installations.
Also included are: 15 Scan Eagle surveillance drones, 1,000 Javelin anti-armour weapons, 1,500 TOW anti-armour missiles, and fresh artillery and artillery ammo.
“We want to make sure Ukraine has a steady flow of ammunition to meet its needs, and that’s what we’re doing with this package,” the defense official said.
According to the American Institute for the Study of War, which publishes a daily analysis of the fighting, Russian forces have barely advanced for weeks on the southern and eastern fronts, and appear to be on the defensive after Ukraine demonstrated his ability to hit deep. Territory controlled by Russia.
“Russia’s military leadership is likely increasingly losing confidence in Crimea’s security” after multiple explosions severely damaged Saki airbase and Black Sea Fleet headquarters, the ISW said.
In addition, he added, the Russians face an increase in attacks inside territories occupied by Ukrainian partisans.
Himars precision-guided rockets, which can fly up to 80 kilometers (50 miles), are part of this change.
“You see the Russians are always paying a high price with Ukrainian attacks, especially using this Himars system,” the official said.
The Pentagon official admitted that the Ukrainian forces had not advanced much either and continued to suffer heavy losses from Russian bombardment.
ISW says the Russians are now threatening Bakhmut, a key target town in the Donetsk region.
And where they see Ukrainian forces threatening, the Russians exploit areas to protect their land lines of communication, he added.
The US official said the package also includes important demining equipment.
At this point, the overall effect of US and allied weapons supplied to Ukraine is a “dump” of Russian forces “with implications for their longer-term sustainability,” the official said.
“We see this overall picture of Russian forces being much more vulnerable than they thought.”
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