The US is throwing in powerful armored vehicles as part of its latest $2.5 billion security package for Ukraine – one of the largest since Russia’s invasion began 11 months ago, the White House announced, Report informs referring to the New York Post.
The assistance includes 90 Stryker combat vehicles and 59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles for infantry.
The package is another step toward giving Ukraine the tanks Kyiv has long asked for, with fighting expected to intensify later this year. Stryker combat vehicles and Bradley Fighting Vehicles are similar to tanks but have less armor and smaller guns.
The US has previously sent Ukraine thousands of other combat vehicles to help move troops – such as Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles – but Bradleys and Strykers offer increased combat capabilities with their 25mm and 105mm cannons, respectively.
Despite Ukraine’s repeated asks for tanks, only the United Kingdom has responded. Last weekend, London announced it would send Ukraine 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Germany is also considering sending its Leopard 2 tanks.
While US officials have acknowledged the benefits that tanks would provide Ukraine’s defenders, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said sending M1 Abrams tanks to the battlefield “just doesn’t make sense… at this moment.”
“The Abrams are more of a sustainment issue,” Singh told reporters. “I mean, this is a tank that requires jet fuel, whereas the Leopard and the Challenger – it’s a different engine, they require diesel. It’s a little bit easier to maintain.”
The latest aid package instead includes eight Avenger air defense systems, 53 mine-resistant vehicles, 350 additional Humvees, 22 tactical vehicles to tow weapons, six command-post vehicles and an assortment of ammunition, artillery and missiles.
The assistance was announced ahead of the Friday meeting of the Pentagon-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which brings together defense leaders from more than 50 nations each month to coordinate resources for the war-torn country.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is also expected to press other allies who use German-made Leopard tanks to offer them to Ukraine.