U.S. Warms to Helping Ukraine Target Crimea
“Ukraine could use Bradleys to move forces down major roads, such as the M14, which connects Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol,” added Seth G. Jones, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Any Ukrainian infantry advancing through these areas would face significant fire from Russian positions, and Bradleys offer helpful firepower and protection for troops.”
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The Bradleys, along with British tanks and the armored combat vehicles that France and Germany have agreed to send, could be the vanguard of an armored force that Ukraine could employ in a counteroffensive this winter or spring, government and independent analysts say.
“We think now is the right time to intensify our support for Ukraine,” Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said Tuesday while on a visit to Washington. “We can’t allow this to drag on and become a kind of First World War attritional-type stalemate.”
The British Defense Ministry said in a Twitter message last week that in recent weeks, Russia had bolstered defensive fortifications in central Zaporizhzhia, a province in southern Ukraine near the land bridge, and where Russia maintains a large force.
If Ukraine does focus on reclaiming Zaporizhzhia, then preliminary attacks could include hitting targets in nearby Crimea. “A major Ukrainian breakthrough in Zaporizhzhia would seriously challenge the viability of Russia’s ‘land bridge,’” the British assessment said.
Ukraine also has American-provided HIMARS, long-range rocket systems. With the reclaiming last year of Kherson in the south, Ukrainian forward lines can now use them to hit the main supply routes coming out of Crimea, one American military official said in an interview.
This week, top U.S. and Ukrainian commanders will hold a high-level planning meeting in Germany to game out the offensive planning, another senior U.S. official said. The drill, the official said, is meant to align Ukraine’s battle plans with the kinds of weapons and supplies NATO allies are contributing.