Counter-Offensive Arms, Gear Continues a Trend in US Aid to Ukraine
Mine-clearing and bridging equipment are of particular use in assaulting dug-in forces.
The latest U.S. aid package to Ukraine continues a recent trend: arms and gear of particular use in the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive against the Russian invaders.
Announced today, the package includes mine-clearing equipment, demolition munitions, and equipment for clearing obstacles, plus ammunition for U.S.-supplied weapons such as 155mm artillery and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems launchers. The materiel has a total value of $350 million.
The arms deal comes as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive that Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak has said would occur this spring. In addition to receiving assault equipment from the U.S., such as tanks and mine-clearing devices, Ukraine is also raising eight brigades focused on offensive operations.
Mine-clearing devices and demolition charges are “critically important,” for offensive operations, said Mark Cancian, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Russians have been digging in for so long. It looks like World War I.”
Russia has particularly built up its defenses in southern Ukraine, which provides a land corridor between Russia and Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula seized in 2014.
The U.S. appears to have increased supplies of equipment for use in assault operations over the last three months.
Of the last 12 U.S. weapons deliveries, dating back to November 4, only two shipments included mine-clearing equipment, on February 24 and March 3. Over the same period, only three shipments included equipment designated as “demolition equipment for obstacle clearing.” Those shipments occurred on January 19, March 3, and today.
March 3 also saw the first apparent delivery of U.S. bridging equipment to Ukraine.
Cancian warned that Ukrainian units are bound to take many casualties in an assault on Russia’s dug-in troops. “No matter how good your equipment or how good your training, this is still very hard,” he said.
Other equipment to be delivered in the tranche announced today includes riverine patrol boats, vehicle diagnostic equipment, and heavy fuel trucks.