Home News Weapons in US aid bill not fast enough for Ukraine

Weapons in US aid bill not fast enough for Ukraine


On Sunday, Ukraine received a shipment of anti-armor rockets, missiles and much-needed 155mm artillery shells as Russia ramped up pressure on Ukrainian forces along a 600-mile front.This is the first issue $61 billion in military aid President Biden approved the bill just four days ago.

The second batch of weapons and ammunition arrived on Monday. A new batch of Patriot interceptor missiles from Spain arrived in Poland on Tuesday. A senior Spanish official said they would soon reach the Ukrainian front lines.

Efforts are underway to deliver weapons to Ukraine’s exhausted military, which is in dire need of aid. A convoy of planes, trains and trucks arrived at NATO warehouses in Europe last week carrying ammunition and small arms systems to cross the Ukrainian border.

“Now we need to move fast, and we do,” Mr. Biden said Expressed on April 24 as he signed the bill authorizing the aid. He added, “I made sure that shipments started immediately.”

But maintaining a sense of urgency may prove difficult for Biden and other NATO allies. Weapons pledged by the United States, Britain and Germany – all of which have announced significant new military support in the past three weeks – may take months to arrive in sufficient quantities to bolster Ukraine’s presence on the battlefield, officials said. defense.

That raised questions about Ukraine’s ability to withstand Russian attacks, which put Kyiv at a disadvantage for months.

Faced with Russia’s steady advance, however, Ukraine is running out of time to fail.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines told Congress on Thursday that Russia had the potential to breach some of its front lines in parts of eastern Ukraine. A widely anticipated Russian offensive this month or next will only increase tensions.

“Russian forces are now trying to exploit the situation, and we are waiting for delivery from our partners, mainly the United States,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Monday said During a press conference in Kiev with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

He noted that “some deliveries have been made,” but added, “All I can say is that we haven’t gotten everything we need to equip the brigade.”

Mr. Stoltenberg also sounded impatient. “The announcement is not enough” He said. “We need to see weapons delivered.”

A classified U.S. military assessment this week concluded that Russia will continue to make marginal gains in the east and southeast ahead of the May 9 Victory Day holiday, a senior U.S. official said. However, the official said the conclusion was that despite the severe shortage of ammunition, the Ukrainian army would not completely collapse on the front lines.

Other U.S. officials believe Russia does not have enough forces to launch a major offensive before May 9, a date Moscow typically uses to show off its military might. That would require a massive buildup of troops, something U.S. officials have so far not seen.

The officials interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military and intelligence assessments and operational details.

U.S. and European officials say the effort to deliver weapons to Ukraine adds to small but steady aid from allies over the past six months.

Some of the new weapons have started arriving even before they were announced.A British defense official said it was part of an estimated $620 million in aid announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on April 23. The largest single military investment in Ukraine to date —The move started a few weeks ago.

But an additional batch of long-range Storm Shadow missiles could take weeks to arrive, with British officials calling it an “absolute priority.” The official declined to be more specific, citing security concerns, and described the sensitive delivery process on condition of anonymity.

Senior officials in the United States and other Western countries agree that artillery, anti-aircraft interceptors and other munitions are Ukraine’s most urgent needs. They’re also among the weapons that can be delivered faster: flown to warehouses by military aircraft and then shipped across the border by train or truck, packaged in pallets that can be easily concealed.

Defense Department officials said the pace of aid at the Rzeszów-Gasionka airport in southeastern Poland, about 50 miles from the Ukrainian border, has accelerated since Congress approved the aid.

Deliveries could be particularly fast if the ammunition is already stockpiled in Central and Eastern Europe where the United States and other allies stockpile it.

Logistics experts at the U.S. military base in Wiesbaden, Germany, would have just days to coordinate the delivery of the most urgently needed weapons, officials said.

The transfer of combat vehicles, ships, advanced artillery, missile launchers and air defense systems is much more difficult and takes longer – in part because their size often requires transport by sea and heavily guarded trains.

A U.S. official said most of the large weapons and even some of the ammunition funded by the new U.S. aid will be shipped from the United States and will likely not be delivered until the summer or even later. The U.S. official also spoke on condition of anonymity.

To make things more complicated, not all of the promised weapons are immediately available.

The U.S. official noted that it will take time to determine what items can be provided to Ukraine without draining NATO forces that need to be combat-ready, such as those using Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and U.S. Humvee personnel carriers. pack. Other weapons, such as the 155mm artillery pieces that Ukraine desperately needs, are in short supply globally.

Ukrainian troops need to receive some training in the use of weapons before they can be transferred, such as the Patriot system donated by Germany for the third time Announced on April 13.

About 70 Ukrainian soldiers will begin a six-week “Patriot” training course at an air base in eastern Germany on Monday. Colonel Jan-Henrik Sukolt, head of the ground-based air and missile defense department at Luftwaffe headquarters, said the process has been sped up from the six- to nine-month course the Luftwaffe typically uses.

“You can’t give up on a weapons system like Patriot without training people on how to use it,” Col. Sucorte said in an interview Thursday.

Once training is complete, it typically takes German troops about two days to transport the massive missile launchers, radars and other components to a logistics center in Poland and then hand them over to Ukrainian officials for transit.

The newly committed Patriot systems are not expected to arrive in Ukraine until late June at the earliest. Its delivery is likely to coincide with the delivery of another major weapons system that Ukraine has long requested: F-16 fighter jets.Although Ukraine has been requesting these fighter jets almost since the outbreak of the war in February 2022, they Not expected to be delivered Until this summer—and initially in small numbers.

As Ukraine struggles to hold on to its territory, U.S. officials believe Russia will continue to attack and suppress its existing advantages until Western reinforcements are in place.

“I don’t think the Russians are planning a big push right now, but they have had tactical successes in some places and will probably be eager to exploit those successes before new munitions flood the front lines,” he said. Ralph F. Goff, a former senior CIA official who served in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, recently visited Ukraine.

He warned that threats made last week by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about more attacks on Western weapons logistics centers and storage facilities in Ukraine should be taken seriously.

Soldiers in several Ukrainian brigades on the front lines this week expressed great relief that more Western weapons were coming, but said they had not yet seen any of the vital artillery shells and other equipment needed for daily fighting.

It remains to be seen how far Russia will be able to exploit its current advantages before Western supplies arrive. Even securing the entire Donbass region will remain a difficult challenge for Moscow, as the battle for major cities under Ukrainian control is likely to be long and bloody.

Yet there is near-unanimity among Western leaders and defense officials that Ukraine faces a particularly fraught moment – evident even in the grim circumstances of two years of war – that requires urgent deliveries of weapons.

“Are there more threats?” Sunak said in Poland on April 23 as he announced new British aid.

“We cannot afford to be complacent,” Mr Sunak warned.

Helen Cooper Nastya Kuznietsova also contributed reporting.

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