Reports of a recent shift from more defensive to more offensive weapon systems shipped from the U.S. to Ukraine come amid an ongoing debate in Washington, D.C. between those advocating for further spending on Ukraine’s military capabilities and others wanting greater oversight over the use of taxpayer dollars.
On one side, former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Bob Gates called for “an increase in military supplies and capability” in a Washington Post op-ed published on Sunday.
Mobile armor — such as Bradley Fighting Vehicles — was highlighted as a critical capability that Ukrainian forces would require to repel Russian attacks and push their forces back.
On the other side, the Republican-led House is less enthusiastic about providing further military aid to Ukraine, CNN reported.
Some members of Congress have long advocated for greater oversight over U.S. aid to the nation, specifically the large number of weapons and equipment flowing into Kyiv. Some have objected to specific “high-value” weapon packages for fear that they, for instance, might end up on the black market.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is among the most prominent legislators objecting to large-scale aid packages for Ukraine.
“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation,” he said last May. “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy.”
Despite such objections, according to two senior U.S. officials, there has been a “substantive change” in the type of weaponry provided to Ukraine by the U.S. and its allies to meet Kyiv’s requests for firepower.
According to one of the officials, the latest aid announcement from the U.S. included more offensive weapons, such as Bradley Fighting Vehicles and advanced long-range rocket systems, reflecting the nature of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine and a belief that Ukraine has a window of opportunity to reclaim territory before Russia regroups.
One U.S. official also stated that Ukraine has followed the rules regarding how it can use the weapons provided by the West thus far — namely, to not strike within Russia. As a result, the U.S. was less hesitant to send more powerful systems.
The Ukrainians are developing and implementing their own strategy, and the U.S. actions are intended to support that strategy and meet their needs on the battlefield, officials told CNN.
The announcement last week that Bradleys, dubbed a “tank killer” by officials, would be provided was the largest military aid announcement since the war began.
“We are positioning Ukraine to move forward and retake territory,” said Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper of the pivot on Friday.
Other changes in the aid packages sent to Ukraine include advanced longer-range missile defense systems, such as the Patriot missile system.
The U.S. has also supplied HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which Ukraine recently used in a strike against Russia in occupied Makiivka that left many dead, as The Dallas Express reported last week.
The U.S. and its allies believe that expanding Ukrainian offensive operations now is key to retaking Russian-occupied territory given that, as Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder affirmed, one of Russia’s weaknesses is its inability to defend the territory it has taken.