Seven planes carrying US weapons for Ukraine will head to Europe in the next 24 hours, a senior US defense official said, as several Western leaders pledged more military support to Ukraine against a Russian offensive in the East.
Weapons are part of an $800 million weapons package that the Biden administration authorized last week and that includes artillery systems, artillery shells, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.
“None of these shipments stay around for very long,” said the US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under rules set by the Pentagon, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
kyiv has requested additional weapons and support to prevent New Moscow offensive in the eastern Donbas regionwhere Russian forces have been building up after their withdrawal from the Ukrainian capital area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “the battle for donbas” began on Monday, as Russian attacks in the region intensified, and promised that Ukraine would put up fierce resistance to Russia’s push there.
In response to the intensified attack, US President Joe Biden and other Western leaders on Tuesday discussed increasing military, economic and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian government and ways to hold Moscow to account, the White House said. .
Biden consulted with French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, among others.
The purpose of the call was “to discuss our continued support for Ukraine and efforts to hold Russia accountable as part of our close coordination,” the White House said.
Scholz later said that Germany intended to supply Ukraine with anti-tank and air defense weapons, as well as long-range artillery weapons, while the UK’s Johnson also promised more artillery weapons as the conflict escalated. a new phase.
canadian prime minister justin trudeau He also said that Canada would send heavy artillery and promised to provide more details.
Biden, meanwhile, when asked by reporters if he planned to supply Ukraine with more artillery, said he would. “We will continue to provide them with more ammunition, as we will provide them with more military assistance,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki also said.
It was unclear whether those comments were referring to the already announced $800 million weapons package.
“I have no future packages or shipments to discuss today,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters later Tuesday afternoon.
However, Kirby said it was “certainly” possible Ukraine might want additional artillery systems in the future, saying Washington would discuss such a request whenever it was made.
“You don’t want to run everything you’ve got, the whole kitchen sink, in there, and then have them have nowhere to put [the systems], there’s nowhere to temporarily store them, there’s nowhere to move them,” Kirby said. “You have to do this intelligently, and that means doing it in parts and phases, depending on what their needs are at the time.”
Mark Kimmitt, former deputy director for plans and strategy at US Central Command, said the $800 million weapon pack includes some valuable equipment, “but the number of pieces of equipment…barely [keep] with what the Ukrainians have lost so far.”
It includes 18 155mm howitzer guns for the first time, as well as 40,000 artillery shells, 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 11 Mi-17 helicopters and 100 multipurpose armored vehicles. Washington is expected to train the Ukrainians on the howitzers in the next few days.
“But there are no magic bullets in that aid package and honestly, with this [eastern] offensive, I wouldn’t want to say, ‘It’s too little, too late’… but it’s not going to make a significant difference in this upcoming battle,” Kimmitt told Al Jazeera.
Russia said Tuesday that it had started “another phase” of its invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February and has forced millions of people to flee the country amid heavy shelling and shelling.
The Russian Defense Ministry said “high-precision aerial missiles” had hit 13 Ukrainian positions in parts of Donbas, while other airstrikes “hit 60 military assets”, including in cities near the eastern front line.
Russian forces also seemed seize your first city in the region, Kreminna, after the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops.
“Another phase of this operation is starting and I am sure it will be a very important moment in this whole special operation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during an interview broadcast on the India Today television channel.
moscow had warned Washington last week against supplying more weapons to kyiv, saying in a diplomatic note that shipments of the “most sensitive” US and NATO weapons systems to Ukraine could bring “unpredictable consequences”.