Ahead of Ukraine’s long-expected spring counteroffensive against Russian forces in the Ukrainian east, the head of NATO said that the military alliance has delivered nearly all of its promised combat vehicles to Kyiv.
“More than 98% of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine have already been delivered. That means over 1,550 armored vehicles, 230 tanks, and other equipment, including vast amounts of ammunition,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference in Brussels on Thursday, April 27.
NATO member states and partner countries such as Australia have been donating weapon systems and ammunition to Kyiv over the past several months. Those include American-provided Strykers, Bradley fighting vehicles and German Leopard 2 tanks. Ukraine had been outmatched when it came to armor and vehicles when the war started, relying on older Soviet-era tanks, as well as modified civilian cars and captured Russian tanks. In recent months NATO member states have been delivering their own pieces of armor, and training Ukrainian soldiers on the new weapons system.
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Along with the vehicles, the centerpiece of Ukraine’s preparations is nine new brigades, approximately 30,000 troops in total, all trained by NATO forces.
“This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory,” Stoltenberg added.
Ukraine previously recaptured swaths of land in the early fall in 2022, before winter set in and the fighting turned into more static fighting. Heavy artillery combat has depleted much of the country’s ammunition supplies, which NATO is trying to replenish. With the weather changing, and with new Western-supplied arms and training, Ukraine is preparing for a new offensive, expected to focus on the country’s east, controlled by Russian troops and Russian-aligned separatist forces.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the oligarch in charge of the Wagner Group, has expressed his own belief that the amassed Ukrainian forces are enough to retake all of the city of Bakhmut. It has become a focal point of the fighting since the shift to a static war of attrition. Both the Wagner Group and the Kremlin have put significant focus on taking the city, viewing it as a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance.
During his comments, Stoltenberg warned about underestimating Russia in the fight, noting the Russian military’s willingness to send thousands of troops to the front lines despite high casualties over the last year. Both sides have incurred heavy losses in the fighting, with both trench warfare and massive artillery barrages inflicting high casualties. Russia for its part has had its spetsnaz special operations forces heavily weakened from frontline combat.
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