the new security assistance package includes ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems known as HIMARS and 75,000 howitzers, as well as mortar systems, surface-to-air missiles, Javelin anti-armor missiles, claymore mines and demolition explosives. Push total US military support to Ukraine exceeds $9 billion since the war began, officials said.
“These are all critical capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east and also address evolving developments in the south and elsewhere,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said. He called the package encompassing the types of weaponry “that the Ukrainian people are using so effectively to defend their country.”
Kahl said the Russian military has faced considerable setbacks as a result of US efforts to arm and equip Ukraine, indicating that its forces have suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties in the past six months. The figure includes dead and wounded personnel, he said.
But the counteroffensive in Kherson is likely to be a challenge for the Ukrainian forces.
The Kyiv government has signaled for weeks that it intends to move into the city, which was home to some 300,000 people before the invasion. And although the efforts of the Ukrainians have already helped recover some nearby townsRussian units have taken notice, said Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior research scientist at the CNA think tank and an expert on the Russian military.
It remains to be seen, he added, whether Washington’s latest arms transfer will be enough to enable the Ukrainians to achieve their immediate goals.
“The Russians have redeployed a lot of defenses … in that area,” Gorenburg said. “Kherson is a big city. And the same problems of attacking a large city that the Russians faced in the early stages of their attack, the Ukrainians would face if the Russians decided to defend it.”
While the influx of ammunition and anti-tank systems in Monday’s aid package is “good for stopping offensives,” Gorenburg said, “it won’t necessarily be as useful if you have a lot of entrenched infantry.”
In Ukraine, the sense of urgency is dire, officials say. President Volodymyr Zelensky told members of Congress late last month that his army had just a few weeks to turn the tide of the war: a timeline driven in part because of Russia’s threat to annex parts of occupied Ukraine as soon as next month and the knowledge that the operation would become exponentially more complicated if it continues in the winter.
Ukrainian leaders have asked the West for more HIMARS, which along with other sophisticated weapons systems have enabled them to destroy Russian command posts, ammunition dumps, air defense sites, radar and communication nodes, and long-range artillery positions. To date they have received 16 US-produced systems, three British-made equivalents and a promise from Germany that another three will be delivered, according to Kahl.
Zelensky’s top advisers have said dozens more are needed if Ukraine is to push back the Russian advance. Asked Monday if the absence of additional HIMARS was an indication that the United States was running out of stock of systems, Kahl declined to answer directly.
The weapons, he said, have been “very effective at hitting things” and have made it “more difficult for Russia to move forces on the battlefield.” the The Pentagon, Kahl added, is committed to “delivering weapons from US stockpiles when they become available.”
Although HIMARS’s long-range precision capabilities are not particularly well-suited to the close combat of a slow-moving counteroffensive, they have been useful in keeping Russian logistics, the weak point that crippled their effort to loot Kyiv earlier in the war. war. on the defensive, experts say. By targeting Russian ammunition depots inside occupied parts of Ukraine, HIMARS strikes have made it more difficult for Russia to resupply its own front lines, wreaking “havoc on supply lines” that could provide Ukraine with opportunities. for extra profit, Gorenburg said.
But the Ukrainian military has to be ready to seize such opportunities, he said. Although Western governments have consistently promised military assistance to Ukraine, in many cases the promised ammunition has been slow to reach the front lines.
According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, as of July 1, the United States and Germany had delivered less than half of the announced military aid to Ukraine. (The institute said it plans to update its figures this month.)
But Zelensky wants his benefactors to do more than provide weapons to help his country stave off the threat of annexation., An impending doom became more real on Monday when the head of the Russian-appointed occupation administration in Zaporizhzhia signed a decree to move forward with a 9/11 referendum.
In an interview, Zelensky told The Washington Post that the United States and its allies should take the unprecedented step of barring all Russian travelers from their countries.
“The most important sanctions are closing the borders, because the Russians are taking someone else’s land,” Zelensky said. The Russians should “live in their own world,” he added, “until they change their philosophy.”
Isabelle Khurshudyan in Kyiv contributed to this report.