The balancing act of the United States of providing substantial military aid to kyiv without provoking a dangerous reaction from nuclear-armed Moscow has become much more difficult as allegations of abuses and atrocities attributed to Russian troops mount.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24, the United States has flooded Ukraine with light weapons, such as Clavellina shoulder-mounted anti-tank missiles, but has refused to hand over heavy weapons, including fighter jets, on the grounds that this would increase the risk of a nuclear conflict. with Russia.
US officials justifying the limited range of weapons point out that the Ukrainians are not trained in many US technologies. Instead, Washington has urged the countries of the former Soviet bloc to send Ukraine Russian-made weapons that are more familiar to them.RELATED
But after the Russian military’s military setbacks and the war crimes attributed to it, the Pentagon is under pressure from lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, to help kyiv with more means to push Russia back.
“It seems to me that our strategy often seems a bit schizophrenic: we want the Ukrainians to win against Russia, but we are afraid that defeating Putin will cause an escalation,” influential Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said Thursday during a congressional hearing before top military officials. Americans.
“Do you have any evidence that Vladimir Putin ever worried that his massacre of civilian women and children was an escalation?” Republican Senator Kevin Cramer said, lamenting in particular that the Pentagon does not deliver MIG- 29 to Kyiv.
– Training and logistics –
Barring a NATO closure of airspace, which could risk a direct confrontation with Russian warplanes, the Pentagon’s options are indeed limited: America’s heavy weapons are not compatible with what it has. the Ukrainian army.
Furthermore, training Ukrainian soldiers in its handling would take them off the battlefield for several weeks, when a major Russian assault is being prepared against the regions of Donbas that Moscow does not control.
Abrams tanks, for example, are powered by a fuel-guzzling turboshaft engine that requires enormous logistical support, and their attack system requires extensive training, the Pentagon says.
The A-10 “Warthog” fighter jet, which Blumenthal cited as capable of delivery to Ukraine, is known for its endurance and ability to return to base even after being severely damaged.
But its pilots must be trained for several weeks and, above all, an entire supply chain must be created to guarantee their maintenance.
In response to criticism, the White House published an exhaustive list of equipment supplied to Ukraine so far: 1,400 Stingers anti-aircraft systems, 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 7,000 other anti-tank weapons, several hundred Switchblade kamikaze drones, 7,000 assault rifles, 50 millions of bullets and various ammunition, 45,000 batches of bulletproof vests and helmets, laser-guided rockets, Puma drones, anti-artillery and anti-drone radars, light armored vehicles, secure communication systems, anti-mine protection.
On Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby took offense at the criticism received.
“The idea that we are not doing enough or fast enough irritates us deeply,” he said.
Since arriving at the White House, President Joe Biden has provided $2.4 billion in military assistance to kyiv, “which is almost as much as Ukraine’s defense budget,” he said.
Recalling that in addition to the weapons supplied to kyiv, the United States increased its military personnel in Europe from 80,000 to 100,000 personnel in mid-February and sent a Patriot anti-aircraft battery to Slovakia to compensate for the Russian-made S-300 system that Bratislava delivered to Ukraine, Kirby stressed that the US military effort is “unprecedented.”
“No other country has the logistics to do this. No other country has the resources to do this,” he said. “At the same time, we take into account that Russia is a nuclear power.”
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