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US advises Ukraine to wait on offensive against Russia: Official

Ukrainian servicemen ride atop a tank near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, January 20, 2023. (Reuters photo)

A senior Biden administration official said Washington has advised Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of US weaponry is ready and training has been provided.

The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said on Friday the United States was holding fast to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid a controversy with Germany over tanks, Reuters reported.

The Biden administration this week announced a whopping new package of arms and munitions for Ukraine worth $2.5 billion, defying Moscow’s repeated warnings against supplying Kiev with heavy weaponry almost a year into the devastating war.

According to the Pentagon, the new military package will send Stryker armored personnel carriers for the first time to Ukraine and also provide “critical support" for the country's air defense amid the raging conflict.

President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House, "Ukraine is going to get all the help they need," when asked if he supports Poland's intention to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.

The official said the US has asked the Ukrainians to devote enough time first to training on the latest weaponry provided by the United States.

US officials told Ukrainians that an offensive would stand to be more successful should they take advantage of the training and the new US weaponry.

The United States on Thursday announced it will send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in the fight.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the aid package brings US military assistance for Ukraine to some $27.4 billion.

He emphasized that the United States "continues to rally the world to support Ukraine", rebuffing repeated warnings from Russia.

Since the start of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine last February, the United States and its European allies have supplied hundreds of armored vehicles to Kiev as part of large military packages.

The UK announced last week that it would send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine, Denmark promised 19 French-made Caesar howitzers, Sweden its Archer artillery system, and Germany said last week it would provide the country Marder armored vehicles.

Finland announced on Friday a new donation of more than 400 million euros ($434 million) worth of military equipment for Ukraine, not including Leopard 2 heavy tanks which it said it could also send if there is an agreement with allies.

The new donation would triple the total value of Finland's military aid to Ukraine, bringing the total so far to 590 million euros, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Finland had earlier indicated it could send the German-made Leopard tanks if there were agreement among allies.

Donation of the newest aid package became possible with the help of neighboring Sweden, which agreed to help Finland quickly replace the donated equipment in case of a crisis.

The two historically neutral Nordic countries are simultaneously applying to join the NATO Western military alliance NATO.

Germany has been cautious about supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz facing mounting pressure within Europe to authorize exports of German-made Leopard tanks.

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