File photo of a South Carolina National Guard M60 AVLB Armored Vehicle Launch Pad, USA

The United States announced on Friday a new military assistance program for Ukraine worth $400 million that includes for the first time armored vehicles capable of launching bridgesallowing troops to cross rivers or other gaps, as Russian and Ukrainian forces remained entrenched on either side of the Dnieper.

The war remained at a stalemate through the winter months, with Russia and Ukraine firing on each other across the river. Both sides are expected to launch offensives as temperatures heat up.

This round of aid will be drawn from existing US weapons stockpiles so it can reach Ukraine more quickly. The United States and its allies are trying to provide additional support to kyiv to better position it for the escalating spring fighting.

The Armored Vehicle Launch Bridge is an 18-meter portable collapsible metal bridge that is carried over the body of a tank. Providing this system now could make it easier for Ukrainian troops to cross rivers to reach Russian forces.

File photo of a US armored vehicle launch pad
File photo of a US armored vehicle launch pad

As Ukraine also continues to suffer from ammunition shortages during the intense firefight, this aid package, like previous ones, includes thousands of spare shells, such as rockets for high mobility artillery systems and ammunition for 155 mm howitzers. This pack also includes demolition ammunition and equipment to overcome obstacles and help Ukraine break through entrenched lines.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago, the United States has shipped more than $32 billion worth of weapons and equipment.

He also roughly tripled the number of Ukrainian forces he trained in advanced combat tactics at a base in Germany to help them break through entrenched Russian lines. At the Grafenwoehr training area, Ukrainian forces undergo a five-week course to prepare them to conduct advanced combined arms maneuvers with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M109 Paladins and Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers. The first 600 Ukrainian soldiers completed the course last month and another 1,600 are in training.

Assistance will also include spare parts and equipment for the maintenance and repair of vehicles.

The new package, number 33, that the United States is sending to kyiv (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
The new package, number 33, that the United States is sending to kyiv (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

The announcement follows a brief meeting on Thursday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting of the Group of 20 diplomats in New Delhi. It was the highest-level face-to-face conversation between the two countries since Russia invaded Ukraine. But there was no indication of a move to ease heightened tensions between the two nations.

Blinken said he told Lavrov that the United States he would continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary.

Lavrov, who did not mention speaking to Blinken when he gave a press conference after the meeting, told reporters that Moscow would continue to emphasize his performance in Ukraine.

(By Tara Copp – AP)

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