A senior defense official said Friday that the United States will send another $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine, including four more advanced rocket systems, in an effort to bolster Ukrainian efforts to strike deeper behind Russian frontlines in the eastern Donbas region.
The assistance comes as Moscow claimed complete control of Ukraine’s Luhansk province in the Donbas this week, but Ukrainian officials say their troops still control a small portion of the province and fierce fighting continues in several villages.
According to the defense official, the eight previously sent High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, are still being used by Ukrainian forces in the fight.
This gives them four more to target Russian command and control nodes, logistics capabilities, and other systems further back from the battlefront. According to a senior military official, at least 100 Ukrainian troops have received HIMAR training. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss details that had not yet been made public.
Russia has launched dozens of missiles across Ukraine in recent days, pinning down Ukrainian forces with continuous long-range fire for hours at a time. According to a US military official, 10 to 15 Russian battalion tactical groups are in the Donbas region, but Russia has suffered significant losses in recent fighting and may need to take a break to reorganize and reset equipment. A battalion tactical group consists of 800 to 1,000 troops.
Ukraine’s leaders have publicly urged Western allies to send more ammunition and advanced systems to help them close the equipment and manpower gap. Precision weapons can assist Ukraine in hitting Russian weapons that are further away and being used to bombard Ukrainian targets.
This is the 15th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine.
In addition to HIMARS, the US will send 1,000 rounds of 155 millimeter artillery, which has a higher precision capability and will assist Ukraine in hitting specific targets. Three tactical vehicles, counter-battery radar systems, spare parts, and other equipment will also be included in the package.
Looking ahead to the coming months, the official stated that one key goal is to strengthen Ukraine’s logistics and repair capabilities so that troops can maintain their weapons systems and fight indefinitely.
Since the war began in late February, the United States has sent approximately $7.3 billion in aid to Ukraine.
Luhansk is one of two provinces that comprise the Donbas, a region of mines and factories where pro-Russian separatists have fought Ukraine’s army for eight years and declared independent republics, which Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized before sending troops into Ukraine.
Putin warned Kyiv on Thursday to accept Moscow’s terms or face the consequences, saying Russia hasn’t yet “started anything in earnest.”
According to US and other Western officials, Russia has been making slow, incremental progress in the Donbas, but not as quickly as Moscow had hoped. President Joe Biden has stated that the United States is providing Ukrainians with the assistance they require to continue to resist Russian aggression.
“I don’t know how it will end,” Biden said last week, “but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine.”