US considers its aid to Ukraine effective, likely will not provide long-distance system for now

US officials largely see Ukraine’s recent momentum as evidence that the types of weapons and intelligence the West has been providing to Ukraine in recent months have been effective. And some caution that it is too early to call Ukraine’s rapid progress in recent days a turning point in the war, warning that Russia is far from militarily spent.

Officials do not believe the battlefield landscape has changed enough to warrant a dramatic strategy change in the short term, despite recent Ukrainian requests from lawmakers and the Pentagon for long-range missile systems and tanks. They claim it can help them sustain a push for longer. Keep the area they have achieved.

But for now, at least, the US is still unwilling to provide the Ukrainian military with the Long-Range Army Tactical Missile System, also known as ATACMS, which they have been requesting for months, officials told CNN. ATACMS has a range of up to 300 kilometers or about 185 miles. The administration still believes that providing those systems may be escalatory because they can only be used to start fires in Russia. Currently, the maximum range of US-provided weapons to Ukraine is about 49 miles.

“It is our assessment that they don’t need ATACMS that are directly relevant to the current fight,” Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of State for Policy, told reporters in late August.

Last week, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed that the US position had not changed. Austin made no mention of the ATACMS in Prague on Friday, saying “HIMARS, which uses the GMLRS rocket, are exceptional in terms of enabling Ukrainians to meet the targets they need to serve inside Ukraine.” “

Since the start of the conflict in February, the Biden administration has taken an incremental approach to providing weapons to Ukraine — in some cases, later agreeing to send weapons previously deemed too incremental in the conflict. Its calculations are based largely on avoiding systems that could be seen by Putin as too provocative, although those lines have shifted over time and were criticized as arbitrary by some former officials. Is.

Some US military officials also acknowledged that systems currently considered too escalatory—such as the F-16 jet—could eventually be provided to Ukraine. But those sources cautioned that such a decision is likely to be distant in the future and is not linked to Ukraine’s recent, but nascent, successes. And there is no indication that such discussions are going on right now.

“Ukraine has made some progress, but there is still a very tough battle ahead, and there is an uphill battle ahead, so I think we have to take that into account as well,” said Brigadier, the Pentagon’s press secretary. General Pat Ryder told reporters on Tuesday. “I think it’s worth continuing with the times, as we have, to work with the international community to hear what their needs are.”

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John Kirby, the US National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, echoed that, telling reporters that the US would announce additional military aid to Ukraine in the coming days, but declined to elaborate on that aid.

Another defense official told CNN on Tuesday that long-range equipment is likely still off the table because Ukraine is “still in the sweet spot on HIMARS,” or the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System that the US and some of its allies use. has provided. In the summer Ukraine has been able to use GPS-guidance, munitions for systems that can hit a target about 40 miles away, provided by the US.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Ukraine’s military had received “thousands” of rounds of the GMLRS, and used them to strike Russian ammunition depots, logistics hubs and command posts.

Still, some MPs disagree with the administration’s cautious approach.

Asked whether he believes the US should send ATACMS, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told CNN, “I think we should send them anything they want to reclaim our territory, which is why we need to send them to the US.” to the extent available to us, and that is appropriate.”

Rubio said, “I think the concern is that some would say that long-range missiles could hit targets deep inside Russia and trigger a wider conflict. I’m not sure I’m that bothered by that,” Rubio said. Am.”

US officials alert on state of war

The US has also been careful not to call Ukraine’s increasingly territorial gains a turning point in the war or a pivotal moment that will decide the outcome for good.

“It’s more important than ever that we don’t seem to be bouncing the ball,” a defense official said. The Russians still have enormous amounts of firepower, manpower and equipment in fighting in Ukraine, and this month’s victory for the Ukrainian military has not sealed the outcome of the war. In military terms, Russia still has “mass”, even if it has been unable to tolerate it at a critical time and place to shape the outcome of a particular battle.

Still, the Ukrainian counter-attack – planned with US aid – appears to be “expertisely executed”, the official said.

One thing that has changed over the past several months is the willingness of Ukrainians to share intelligence with the US, allowing US officials to help Ukrainians improve their battlefield operations.

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“There is a lot more confidence now than at the start of the war,” said a Ukrainian source close to President Volodymyr Zelensky. “And Ukrainians believe that the more they share, the more likely they are to get in return.”

A US military source said that “there has been good communication at various levels about what is being planned on the political side and on the military side. Military transparency is very good.”

In Kherson, where Ukraine had wired its intentions for months before a retaliation began, Russia had time to prepare, the area around one of the first cities captured in the early days of the war. Digging for defense. Ukraine’s progress has been incremental and deliberate, one official said, and there has been no rapid progress through the collapse of Russian lines.

Some analysts have described the Kherson offensive as a “fixing” operation designed to keep Russian troops away from the fighting in Kharkiv.

In Kharkiv, however, the attack took the Russians by surprise and without any well-prepared defences, allowed the Ukrainian army to rapidly reclaim thousands of square miles of territory.

Russia has so far failed to meaningfully prevent a counter-offensive to the south or east of Ukraine because the problems they faced at the start of the war – supply line issues, military problems, and a lack of effective command and control – still persist with the Russian military. , said the officials harassed. Russia proved unable to hold the territory it had seized, partly because of the high costs imposed on them by the Ukrainian defenders.

The US, officials said, is less concerned about Ukraine’s ability to occupy reclaimed territory, even in the east, where Ukrainian forces have moved more than 60 kilometers within days in some cases. . Ukraine’s supply lines are internal, while Russia’s was outside its borders.

In addition, Ukraine’s military will receive a significant boost in morale and will from recent victories, one official said, while Russia’s dwindling military will feel the opposite.

It’s not a real concern of [Ukraine] is increasing supply lines,” one official said. Despite Russian claims of destroying US-provided HIMARS, all 16 systems are accounted for and an “overwhelming majority” of M777 howitzers are also in operation, officials said. Told.

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