Sasha Ustinova, a Ukrainian lawmaker, told Foreign Policy that the U.S. military delivered far less than what Valeriy Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, has asked for from the Pentagon. But U.S. military aid is only coming in dribs and drabs, with the Biden administration is nearing the end of funding for weapons left that it can pull off Pentagon shelves to give to the Ukrainians. Ustinova said that Ukraine hoped to begin the offensive in April, but the lack of weapons has indefinitely pushed the launch date back. “We, as a military, want to have all the weapons now, but of course, it’s impossible in the current situation,” said one Ukrainian military official, speaking anonymously. “Of course, we need the jets, but honestly, it’s not a question of the coming months.”
According to Foreign Policy, the Russian military in occupied areas of Ukraine has already started battening the hatches for the coming counteroffensive. In the city of Berdyansk, on the northern shore of the Azov Sea, Russian troops have begun fortifying the airport with trenches and pyramidal anti-tank obstacles known as ‘dragon’s teeth.’ Occupation troops have also started digging defensive fortifications in Crimea, including at the port of Sevastopol and Belbek Air Base, which has already been hit with blasts since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began more than a year ago. The invaders have been digging in, not advancing. What’s missing are the tools to root them out.“We think the intensity of their offensive operation is decreasing,” said Yehor Cherniev, a Ukrainian lawmaker who heads the nation’s delegation to NATO’s parliamentary authority. “This is a great window for our counteroffensive.”
Ukraine is ramping up for its highly anticipated spring offensive, powered by a huge arsenal of tanks and other weapons being delivered by Western allies, along with newly organized brigades.“The frontline is priority number one. We are also actively preparing new brigades and units that will show themselves at the front,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.“Everyone in Ukraine must understand that the main task of the state is the de-occupation of our territories, the return of our lands and our people from Russian captivity.”
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, an alliance of 54 nations working to assist Kyiv against Russia’s invasion, has delivered over 230 tanks and 1,550 armored vehicles “in just a few short months,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday. Austin noted that Ukraine had received equipment and ammunition to support more than nine new armored brigades. The US has also accelerated the timeline to ship M1 Abrams tanks to train and aid Ukrainian fighters. “All of this is huge progress, and I am confident that this equipment and the training that accompanied it will put Ukraine’s forces in a position to continue to succeed on the battlefield,” he said.
In addition, the 150 Leopard 2 tanks promised by nine Western allies last month are starting to arrive. Western nations, including Germany and Poland, pledged to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine for the spring offensive.
Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told German outlet Tagesschau his country would deliver six Leopard 2 tanks in the coming days, followed by an additional shipment of four. Germany has delivered 18 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, while Portugal has sent over 3, and Poland 14, the Guardian reported. Britain, meanwhile, has transferred 14 Challenger 2 tanks.
Former British Army Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon told The Sun that the tanks would help Ukraine soldiers break through Russia’s defenses and ultimately wreck their forces behind the enemy-held territory, causing the most destruction.“Now they have tanks and artillery for the close fight; I’m pretty confident they’ll be able to [succeed]. The Ukraine Defense Contact Group has recently delivered over 230 tanks and 1,550 armored vehicles.
The influx of weapons and training for Ukraine is coming as Russia makes minor advances, including in the months-long struggle to control the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Moscow has captured three more districts in the city’s western parts.“The airborne troops were restraining the Ukrainian units on the flanks and supported the actions of the assault squads to capture the city,” the ministry said. But these gains may be stifled by Russia’s troubles at homemaintaining its narrative that the invasion is aimed at “denazification.”
Russia has made some minor advances in the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Moscow reportedly canceled an annual World War II commemoration, the Immortal Regiment “Great Patriotic War” remembrance marches, over concerns that it would be used to highlight the country’s losses to Ukraine, according to a UK Ministry of Defense intelligence update. Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner group, whose troops are heavily involved in the Bakhmut campaign, has publicly questioned whether there are any Nazis to defeat in Ukraine.“The authorities have continued attempts to unify the Russian public around polarizing myths about the 1940s,” the UK defense ministry said. Prigozhin also appears to be sweating over the looming Ukrainian offensive, which will be bolstered with newer and advanced weapons, and expects the assault to begin after the spring “mud season” ends.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the mercenary Wagner group fighting with Russian troops, is concerned about Ukraine’s looming assault with new, more advanced weaponry.
“They will attack … they will come and try to tear us apart, and we must resist,” he is a recording shared on Telegram. The concern comes as Russia poises itself to beef up its military, with lawmakers passing new legislation that allows authorities to send electronic conscription notices to draftees and reservists and physical notices via mail. The new alert system will close a loophole many Russians used to avoid being called up by staying away from their official addresses.