US will send Stryker combat vehicles to Ukraine

The Pentagon on Thursday announced a $2.5 billion security package for Ukraine, including for the first time Stryker combat vehicles and other Bradley fighting vehicles, which could be used against any potential Russian offensive in Ukraine this spring.

The package, released a day before an international coalition meets in Germany to discuss more aid to Ukraine, is the second largest ever announced by the United States. The US has now given Ukraine $26.7 billion in security aid since the war began almost a year ago.

“The United States also continues to rally the world in support of Ukraine. We have seen incredible solidarity from our allies and partners, including today’s Defense Contact Group for Ukraine, and we applaud the more than 50 countries that have come together to make significant contributions in support of Ukraine,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“Russia alone could end this war today. Until they do, we will stand United with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he added.

The latest pack includes 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 59 additional Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. The previous package included 50 Bradleys, bringing the total to more than 100. Thursday’s announcement marks a significant escalation of the armored vehicles the US has committed to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

The new aid also includes munitions for the HIMARS missile system, which Ukraine has used to great effect against Russian weapons depots and command posts, as well as other air defense munitions and systems. The Pentagon has made air defense a permanent priority to help bolster Ukraine’s response to the Kremlin’s latest airstrikes against critical infrastructure.

Russia’s attacks on infrastructure during the frigid winter months have at times left millions of civilians without electricity, heat, water and other essential services. In announcing the latest aid package, the Biden administration said such attacks “again demonstrate the devastating impact of Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.”
Missing from the pack some of the combat vehicles are M1 Abrams tanks, a point of tension between the US and Germany. German officials have indicated they will not send their Leopard tanks to Ukraine, nor will they allow any other country with German-made tanks to do so unless the U.S. also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to Kiev — something the Pentagon has said for months it does not intend to due to the logistical costs of maintaining them.

“One of the things that Secretary Austin was very focused on is that we shouldn’t provide the Ukrainians with systems that they can’t fix, can’t maintain, and can’t afford in the long run, because it’s not useful. ” Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters on Wednesday. “And it’s not about the news cycle or what’s symbolically valuable, it’s what’s really going to help Ukraine on the battlefield.”

The tank stop comes at a time of much greater debate between the US and its European allies over whether to send increasingly sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, including longer-range missiles that would allow Ukraine to hit targets up to 200 miles away.

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