US announces $400m in new Ukraine military aid

Kyiv receives support before a possible spring offensive by Russia

High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) missile launcher vehicles on an assembly line in Camden, Arkansas. Reuters
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The US announced a new military aid package for Ukraine on Friday worth $400 million, which for the first time will include tactical bridges to move tanks and armoured vehicles.

“I am authorising our 33rd drawdown of US arms and equipment for Ukraine since August 2021, valued at $400 million,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement announcing the new aid, which will be primarily comprised of ammunition.

The bridges could be used by Ukrainian troops who have been training in “combined arms manoeuvre” warfare, which is the co-ordinated use of artillery shelling, alongside tank and armoured vehicle attack movements, to retake territory seized by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine a year ago.

The additional ammunition is being sent to help boost stocks in anticipation of a spring offensive.

“Assault bridging is essential for combined arms operations. It allows armoured vehicles to cross narrow rivers and ditches that would otherwise cause a whole force to slow down,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for land warfare at the London-based Royal United Services Institute.

“Importantly, assault bridges are only critical for offensive operations showing that the US is preparing Ukraine to continue retaking its territory,” Mr Watling added.

In January, Berlin agreed to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine and said it would work with allies to send more.

German aid for Ukraine was expected to be a major topic when US President Joe Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz met at the White House on Friday.

Several Nato allies have pledged a range of armoured fighting vehicles.

“This military assistance package includes more ammunition for US-provided Himars and howitzers, which Ukraine is using so effectively to defend itself,” Mr Blinken said.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: March 03, 2023, 6:56 PM