The US and Ukraine are in intense discussions over a new round of security assistance geared to counter a stepped-up Russian campaign in eastern and southern Ukraine, where the terrain is different from the war’s previous main front, according to multiple US defense officials.
The package being put together could focus on more drones and Javelin anti-tank weapons — which the US has previously supplied to Ukraine. This is partly because Ukraine already has these types of weapons in its inventory and can use them quickly, one official said.
The US is also talking to partners and allies in Europe to see what additional long-range air defense systems, tanks, armor and artillery they can supply Ukraine from their own stocks.
Those talks are particularly urgent because the terrain in southern and eastern Ukraine is different from the initial phase, which to some extent took place in forested areas north of Kiev, where Ukrainian forces succeeded with ambush tactics.
Now, along the new eastern and southern fronts, Ukrainians are in need of heavier weapons, such as armor and artillery, officials said.
“It’s much more open and lends itself to mechanized offensive operations on both sides,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate panel last week.
US systems are not in the Ukrainian inventory, so finding partners and allies willing to contribute is a top priority. Part of the negotiations is that the US will replace the partners’ provisions with potentially more sophisticated systems.
Ukraine still wants to get fighter jets, the officials said, but the US remains against facilitating such a transfer.
The Defense Ministry has said Russia’s refocusing on the Donbas region has not affected its ability to get security assistance from the US to Ukraine.
“Eight to 10 flights a day enter the region, not only from the United States but from other countries,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a briefing Monday.
“In some cases, it takes no more than four to six days from the president’s approval of the recording into the Ukrainian hands,” he said.
Michael Conte of DailyExpertNews contributed to this post.