WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to delay launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the last supply of U.S. weaponry is ready and training is provided, a senior official said. of the Biden administration this Friday.
The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States is sticking to its decision not to supply Ukraine with Abrams tanks at this time, amid a controversy with Germany over the tanks.
President Joe Biden, who approved a new $2.5 billion arms package for Ukraine this week, told reporters at the White House: “Ukraine will get all the help it needs,” when asked if he supports the intention. from Poland to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
US negotiations with Ukraine over any counter-offensive have been in the context of ensuring that Ukrainians dedicate sufficient time first to training with the latest US-supplied weaponry, the official said.
US officials believe an offensive would be more successful if the Ukrainians took advantage of training and a significant infusion of new weaponry.
The United States announced on Thursday that it would send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in the fight.
A high-ranking American delegation that included Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and White House Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer has been in Kyiv in recent days for talks with Ukrainian officials.
The belief in Washington is that Ukraine has spent considerable resources defending the city of Bakhmut, but there is a strong possibility that the Russians will eventually drive the Ukrainians out of that city, the official said.
If that happens, it will not result in any strategic changes on the battlefield, the official said.
One consideration for Ukrainians, the official said, is how much they continue to invest in Bakhmut’s defense as they prepare for an offensive to try to drive the Russians out of areas they control in southern Ukraine.
US officials are working with the Ukrainians on that exchange, the official said.
On another front, US officials are advising Ukraine to adjust the way Kyiv conducts the war, avoiding trying to match Russia round after round with artillery fire, because ultimately Moscow will gain an advantage through attrition, the authority.
That’s why the latest US arms supply includes armored vehicles, because it will help Ukraine change the way it fights 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 offensive with heavy equipment, said Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk region in Ukraine.
The official said the United States does not currently 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 is consensus among the allies.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Edited by Howard Goller, Rosalba O’Brien and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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