The next few months will be critical to the success of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the spring, according to senior Pentagon officials.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday that there is a “window of opportunity” for Ukraine to acquire the necessary capabilities to go on the offensive before the spring.
Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley traveled to Ramstein Air Base in Germany this week to attend a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Liaison Group. The conference brought together representatives of 54 countries to discuss the equipment and training that Ukraine needs to expel. Russia from its territory.
Mili told reporters after the meeting that it would be “very, very difficult” militarily for Ukraine to completely kick Russia out of Ukraine this year.
However, he suggested that depending on the training and new equipment Ukrainians receive in the coming months, operations to reclaim parts of Russia’s occupied territories could be successful.
He also said it would be a “very heavy lift” to deliver the equipment to the Ukrainians, after which they were trained both in how to use the equipment and how to maneuver it on the battlefield.
Last weekend, the US began training about 500 Ukrainians a month for combined arms training. It’s a way of conducting operations and coordinating air and ground between battalion-sized groups.
The latest US aid package, totaling $2.5 billion, announced Thursday includes more air defense capabilities and additional armored fighting vehicles, but no tanks.
Some expected the Ukrainian Defense Liaison Group meeting to put pressure on Germany to offer or allow third-country exports.to Ukraine. There are around 2,000 Leopard tanks in NATO’s vicinity, and some countries have suggested they are willing to provide them to Ukraine, but they need German approval.
Austin told reporters the German Defense Minister had not yet made a decision on the Leopard tank. He also clarified that Germany’s decision does not depend on the US providing Abrams tanks to Ukraine. U.S. officials have argued that the more difficult-to-obtain jet fuel-powered Abrams tanks are too difficult to maintain, while the diesel-powered Leopard is more accessible and easier to use.
“There’s a window of opportunity between now and the spring when they start operations,” Austin said on Friday.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-spring-counteroffensive-mark-milley-lloyd-austin/ Next few months will be critical for Ukraine spring counterattack, senior Pentagon official says