Ukraine is expected to face a significant challenge, with a recent report indicating that Russia has built up the most extensive defenses in Europe since World War II in an attempt to thwart a Ukrainian counteroffensive. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Russia has been busy setting up mine fields, digging trenches and setting up “dragon's teeth.” These concrete pyramid barriers are designed to keep tanks from passing.
The report noted: “Russia’s goals in building these defenses are to solidify its territorial gains in Ukraine and to prevent Ukrainian forces from liberating additional territory.”
Missiles for the Patriot air defense system will form a large part of the military aid. This is one of the most sophisticated air defense systems the Pentagon can offer and has already been credited with shooting down barrages of Russian missiles over Ukrainian cities. The package will also include laser-guided rockets and rounds of artillery, along with shorter-range HAWK missiles. The U.S. will also be sending Ukraine small AeroVironment drones that are launchable by hand.
In a Pentagon briefing, Department of Defense Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated: "It's very clear that on a daily basis, there are Russian forces attempting to kill innocent Ukrainians. And we — the United States government — are going to work with the international community to do everything we can to help them defend their country and take back sovereign territory."
Ukraine has spent the last few months planning its counteroffensive and rounding out its arsenal with more armored personnel carriers and Western tanks. Some Ukrainian soldiers have been undergoing training in Germany as part of their preparation for the counteroffensive.
The U.S. has already supplied Ukraine with almost $40 billion worth of military assistance since the country was invaded by Russia in February of 2022. Much of this aid was made available through presidential drawdown authority taken from existing Pentagon stocks.
The current package will be funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which the Biden administration can use to purchase weapons from industry instead of taking it from American stocks.
The Department of Defense said in a statement that the new aid "illustrates the continued commitment to both Ukraine’s critical near-term capabilities as well as the enduring capacity of Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term."
Ukraine's heavily anticipated counterattack now appears to be underway, with heavy fighting in southern Ukraine and reports of German and U.S. tank and armored vehicle sightings. They have long been expected to carry out a strong effort to take back the territory that Russia has already seized. However, they have yet to make a formal announcement and are not expected to publicly reveal details about their plans.
The Institute for the Study of War believes that the counteroffensive will not be one specific major operation. Instead, their assessment predicted: "It will likely consist of many undertakings at numerous locations of varying size and intensity over many weeks."
Russia has condemned providing Ukraine with foreign military aid, insisting that it will only prolong fighting and will not stop them from pressing forward with their objectives. Nevertheless, the U.S. is currently leading an alliance of 54 nations, including NATO member states, in rallying behind Ukraine via the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, who are expected to meet this week in Brussels.
Sources for this article include: