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US possibly preparing Ukrainians for ‘closer combat’: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, is driven on a test course during a media demonstration at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. (AP file photo)

The United States is possibly helping Ukraine prepare for an impending counterattack against Russia, according to a report.

The Washington Post pointed in a report on Tuesday to the type of weaponry included in the latest tranche of military aid promised to Kiev by Washington.

The newly-announced $800 million package includes 40 bomb-resistant vehicles (MRAP) and missile launchers with shorter ranges.

The previous shipments featured a special emphasis on M777 howitzers and several High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket launch systems.  

The MRAP armor is designed to protect personnel from explosions and bullets while the rollers installed on the vehicle’s front help craft passages in minefields. 

A senior US military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, pointed out that the “mine-clearing is a really good example of how the Ukrainians will need this sort of capability to be able to push their forces forward and retake territory.”

The US has also promised to give Ukraine TOW missiles, which can be mounted on a heavy tripod or on a vehicle like a Humvee, allowing troops to fire a missile and quickly leave to avoid return fire, the Washington Post reported.  

The latest batch of weapons also features Carl Gustav recoilless rifles and 2,000 rounds for them. That weapon’s range of some hundred meters is far closer than the distance between Ukrainian and Russian forces along most of the frontline at the moment.  

On Thursday, three sources familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency that the United States was readying some $800 million worth of additional military aid to Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden would authorize the military aid using his Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of excess weapons from US stocks, they said.

They also cautioned that weapons packages can change in value before they are announced.

The US has given billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a “special military operation” in Ukraine with the aim of “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” the country.

Ranging from anti-armor missiles to helicopters and beyond, the publicly-announced lethal aid packages have already exceeded $8 billion, with the vast majority of transfers happening under the Presidential Drawdown Authority.

Since the beginning of August, the Pentagon has announced two military aid packages worth $550 million and $1 billion. They include HIMARS ammunition, artillery ammunition, Javelin missiles and other anti-armor weapons.

Most of the funding for those weapons comes from money that Congress has set aside to arm Kiev. Congress has approved two aid packages for Ukraine, including $13.6 billion in March and $40 billion in May. Half of those amounts were earmarked for military assistance.


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