The news about the pace of promised arms deliveries from allies is raising anxiety in Kyiv. The delivery of the latest military aid package to Ukraine could be delayed by months, Pentagon officials have just confirmed.
The incoming equipment from the U.S. includes 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of ammunition, four recovery tactical vehicles, thousands of radios and night vision devices, and 18 tactical vehicles to carry the howitzers.
The U.S. government has so far committed almost $6.3bn to Ukraine for its defense and security.
Speaking about the new package in a Wednesday, June 15 statement, President Biden said: “I informed President Zelensky that the United States is providing another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas.
“The bravery, resilience, and determination of the Ukrainian people continues to inspire the world, and the United States, together with our allies and partners, will not waver in our commitment to the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom” he added.
The latest aid package also includes two vehicle-mounted Harpoon coastal defense systems, which could prove effective in tackling the around 20 Russian warships blockading Ukraine’s ports in the Black Sea, enabling grain, one of the country’s biggest commodities, to once again be supplied to the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
But the actual materialization of promised military aid and equipment from the west has so far been slow, and the wait for the latest package is also expected to be delayed.
Despite urgent demand from Ukrainian soldiers for more weapons and ammunition in industrial Donbas region, the delivery of the latest package won’t reach Ukraine for several months, U.S. officials told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, June 15.
The hold-up is due in part to the process the U.S. must take to procure the Harpoon launchers, but also the time it takes to train Ukrainian troops to operate the systems.
Ukraine has so far only received 10% of military assistance requested from its Western allies, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar confirmed in a televised address on Tuesday, June 14. She also stressed that whilst Ukraine fires between 5,000 and 6,000 artillery rounds an average a day, Russia continues to fire 10 times as many.
“No matter how much effort Ukraine makes, no matter how professional our army, we will not be able to win this war without the help of Western partners,” Malyar said.
Ukrainian leaders have already vented their frustration over the bureaucracy and logistical hurdles hampering much-needed speedy delivery, particularly with respect to areas under heavy attack from Russian forces, such as the Donbas region.
Last week, President Zelensky urged western governments to do more to hasten the process, saying in a nightly address that “It is vital to hold on there, in Donbas. The more losses the enemy suffers there, the less power they will have to continue the aggression.
“Delay with its provision cannot be justified. I will constantly emphasize this when talking to our partners,” he added.
In the meantime, some officials sounded more optimistic.
“We’re likely to be in this phase for a while, and the Russian gains continue to be incremental,” a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday, June 15.
“And we believe that when these capabilities do arrive, they will make a significant difference and that they will arrive in time to do so,” he underlined.
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