The Ukrainian counteroffensive is “progressing steadily” against Russian troops and will soon be supported by the arrival of American Abrams tanks on the ground, the United States assured Tuesday during a meeting with its allies in Germany.
• Read also: “Stay strong!”: Zelensky at the bedside of Ukrainian soldiers in a New York hospital
• Read also: A grain ship leaves the Ukrainian port
This fifteenth meeting to coordinate military aid to Ukraine, at the US base in Ramstein (south), brought together around fifty countries in the presence of the new Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Roustem Oumerov, from whom the country demands more means to repel the attack. . Russian invasion.
According to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, host of the meeting, the Ukrainian counteroffensive underway since early June “continues to progress steadily.”
Austin also announced that American tanks “will soon enter Ukraine.”
According to a senior US military official, the first devices will arrive in the coming days and the rest in the coming weeks.
“And this will add a formidable armored force” to the battlefield, said Austin, who will host Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Penetrate the Russian defense
These tanks will be equipped, in particular, with 120 mm depleted uranium ammunition supplied by the United States, according to an announcement made in September. These munitions can pierce armor, but are controversial due to toxic risks to the military and the public.
Washington had promised in January to send 31 Abrams heavy tanks in total, which will be added to the Challenger 2 delivered by London and the German-made Leopard 2.
Until now, the Ukrainians only had machines of Soviet design.
Since the start of their counteroffensive about three months ago, Kiev’s troops “have penetrated several layers” of the Russian defense, US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley observed in Ramstein.
“This is a series of defensive belts that the Russians have created with complex obstacles, minefields, dragon teeth, barbed wire, fortresses, etc.,” he describes.
The Ukrainians are “moving very slowly” through these layers “preserving their combat power,” he added.
Ukrainian officials, however, insist on the urgency of obtaining more means to attack Russian troops beyond the front line and control the airspace.
The American-designed F-16 fighters promised by several countries are especially expected, although these equipment pose a training challenge and will not be able to be used for several months for the first units.
The Ukrainians are also urging Germany and the United States to launch long-range cruise missiles.
The issue has not yet been resolved, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius admitted on Monday, stressing that “a multitude of political, legal, military and technical aspects” had to be resolved first.
Among the outstanding questions is whether this type of weapon can be used without the support of Bundeswehr soldiers. Berlin also fears that the missiles could reach Russian territory, causing an escalation of the conflict.
“We are focused on Ukraine’s most urgent needs, those of air defense capacity,” the US secretary stressed when asked about the supply of missiles.
Ukraine is targeted almost daily by Russian drones.
Russian attacks in Ukraine this Tuesday caused the death of six civilians in Kupiansk (east), another two in Kherson (south) and one in Lviv (west), Ukrainian authorities announced.
The attack on Lviv, almost 1,000 kilometers from the front, destroyed three warehouses and “seven drones were shot down” on the territory of the region.
In the Mykolaiv region (southern), ten Shahed drones were shot down overnight by air defenses.
On the eve of the meeting, Germany announced a new aid package of 400 million euros, including ammunition.
“I have urged our partners to donate all the air defense munitions they can as Ukraine heads into another winter of war,” Austin insisted.
In total, he said, the United States and its allies have committed more than $76 billion in direct aid to the defense of Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.