WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest U.S. arms procurement is in place and deployed. training is available, a senior Biden administration official said Friday.
The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States was standing by its decision not to supply Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid a dispute with Germany over tanks.
President Joe Biden, who this week approved a new $2.5 billion arms package for Ukraine, 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 a German-made Leopard. tanks to Ukraine.
The US talks with Ukraine regarding any counteroffensive were in the context of ensuring that the Ukrainians first spend enough time to train on the latest weaponry provided by the United States, the official said.
US officials believe that attacks would have been more successful if the Ukrainians had taken advantage of the training and significant infusion of new weaponry.
The United States announced Thursday that it will send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in combat.
A high-level delegation from the United States that included the Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the deputy national security adviser of the White House, Jon Finer, was in Kyiv in the last few days for talks with officials from Ukraine.
It is believed in Washington that Ukraine has spent considerable resources defending the city of Bakhmut, but there is a high possibility that the Russians will eventually push the Ukrainians out of that town, the official said.
If that happens, it will not result in any strategic change on the battlefield, the official said.
One consideration for the Ukrainians, the official said, is that they continue to pour into Bakhmut’s defenses at a time when they are preparing for an offensive to try to drive the Russians out of the areas they have in southern Ukraine.
US officials are working with the Ukrainians on this exchange, the official said.
On the other hand, US officials are advising Ukraine to adjust how Kyiv conducts the war away from trying to match Russia with artillery fire because Moscow will ultimately gain the advantage through conviction, said the officer.
That is why the latest US arms supply includes armored vehicles, as it will help Ukraine change the way it approaches the war, the official said.
Bad winter weather has hampered fighting on the front lines, although a cold snap that freezes and hardens the ground could pave the way for either side to launch an attack with heavy equipment, said Serhiy Haidai, governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region.
The official said that at this point the United States does not plan to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine because they are expensive and difficult to maintain.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on Friday denied that Berlin was unilaterally blocking the shipment of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine but said the government was ready to move quickly to send them if there was consensus among allies.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Howard Goller, Rosalba O’Brien and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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