US officials advise Ukraine to wait for offensive, official says

WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to postpone launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the last supply of U.S. weapons is ready and training has been provided, a senior U.S. official said on Friday. the Biden administration.

The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States was sticking to its decision not to provide Ukraine with Abrams tanks at this time, amid a dispute with Germany over the tanks.

President Joe Biden, who approved a new $2.5 billion arms package for Ukraine this week, told reporters at the White House that “Ukraine will get all the help it needs,” when asked if he supports the move to Poland to send German-made Leopard aircraft. tanks to Ukraine.

The US talks with Ukraine about any counteroffensive have been in the context of ensuring that the Ukrainians spend enough time first training with the latest US-provided weapons, the official said.

American officials believe that an offensive would be more successful if the Ukrainians took advantage of training and significant infusion of new weapons.

The United States announced Thursday that it will send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in the fighting.

A high-ranking US delegation that included Assistant Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer was in Kyiv in recent days for talks with Ukrainian officials.

The belief in Washington is that Ukraine has spent considerable resources defending the city of Bakhmut, but that there is a high possibility that the Russians will eventually drive the Ukrainians out of that city, the official said.

If that happens, it will not lead to any strategic change on the battlefield, the official said.

One consideration for the Ukrainians, the official said, is how much they continue to invest in defending Bakhmut at a time when they prepare for an offensive to try to drive the Russians out of areas they control in southern Ukraine.

US officials are working with the Ukrainians on this compensation, the official said.

On another front, US officials are advising Ukraine to adjust the way Kyiv conducts the war so that it does not try to match Russia round for round with artillery fire because ultimately Moscow will get advantage through attrition, the official said.

That’s why the latest US weapons supply includes armored vehicles, because it will help Ukraine change the way it fights war, the official said.

Bad winter weather has made fighting on the front lines difficult, although a cold snap that freezes and hardens the ground could pave the way for either side to launch a heavy equipment offensive, said Serhiy Haidai, governor of Ukraine’s region of Luhansk.

The official said the United States does not currently plan to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine because they are expensive and difficult to maintain.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius denied on Friday that Berlin is unilaterally blocking the shipment of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, but said the government was ready to move quickly to send them if there was consensus among the allies.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Edited by Howard Goller, Rosalba O’Brien, and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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