EXPLAINER: Why Washington is boosting heavy arms for Ukraine

Apr 21, 2022, 3:54 AM | Updated: Apr 22, 2022, 11:47 am
FILE - A 155mm round is fired from a 777 Howitzer canon at insurgents during a firing mission by so...

FILE - A 155mm round is fired from a 777 Howitzer canon at insurgents during a firing mission by soldiers with 2nd Platoon, Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321 Field Artillery Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C., July 8, 2011, at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, Afghanistan. The Biden administration's decision to dramatically ramp up delivery of artillery guns to Ukraine eight weeks into the war signals a deepening American military commitment at a pivotal stage of fighting for the country's industrial heartland. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight weeks into the war, the Biden administration’s decision to dramatically ramp up delivery of artillery guns to Ukraine signals a deepening American commitment at a pivotal stage of fighting for the country’s industrial heartland.

It also brings into stark relief Moscow’s warning that continued U.S. military aid to Ukraine would have “unpredictable” consequences, suggesting that Russia sees the international wave of weaponry as a growing obstacle to its invasion as well as a Western provocation.

“We’re in a critical window” of time now, President Joe Biden said Thursday in announcing he had approved an additional $800 million in battlefield aid that includes 72 of the U.S. Army’s 155mm howitzers, along with 144,000 artillery rounds and more than 120 armed drones that will require training for Ukrainian operators.

This brings to $3.4 billion the amount of security assistance provided since Russia began its invasion Feb. 24. That is an extraordinary total of U.S. military aid for a country to which the United States has no defense treaty obligation.

A look at the U.S. assistance and U.S. expectations for what it will accomplish:

WHY IS ARTILLERY SO IMPORTANT NOW?

Heavy weapons such as artillery are shaping up as a key feature of the unfolding battle for Ukraine’s eastern region known as the Donbas. The relatively flat terrain is suited for what the military calls maneuver warfare — the movement of tanks and other ground forces backed by long-range guns like the 155mm howitzer.

The Russians have been deploying their own additional artillery to the Donbas region in recent days, along with more ground troops and other material to support and sustain what could be a long fight for terrain in Ukraine’s industrial heartland.

The howitzers the U.S. is sending to Ukraine will be the latest American model, known as the M777, used by the Army and the Marine Corps. Smaller and more maneuverable than the older model, the M777 can be deployed on the battlefield by heavy-lift helicopters and moved relatively quickly between positions by seven-ton trucks that also are being provided by the Pentagon.

“What makes it important is the kind of fighting that we expect in the Donbas. Because of the terrain, because it’s open, because it’s flat, because it’s not as urban, we can expect the Russians to rely on long-range fires — artillery in particular,” said John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. “So we know that this is going to be part of the Russians’ playbook.”

A senior U.S. defense official said the first of the 72 howitzers are expected to begin moving to Europe by this weekend. Of 18 other 155mm howitzers that Biden approved last week for shipment to Ukraine, an unspecified number already are in Europe, and U.S. howitzer training for Ukrainian personnel began Wednesday in an undisclosed country outside of Ukraine.

WILL THIS BE ENOUGH TO HOLD OFF THE RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE?

Probably not, and Biden said he already has asked the Pentagon to get to work on additional potential military assistance.

Biden said this phase of Russia’s invasion will be “more limited in terms of geography but not in terms of brutality.” He also acknowledged that he needs Congress to approve the funds necessary to continue providing key weapons to Ukraine beyond the latest $800 million package, which he said would ensure a steady flow of arms only for the next few weeks.

U.S. officials say the Russians are trying to adjust their approach in Ukraine after early setbacks, suggesting the fight could be a long one.

After failing to take Kyiv, the capital, in the early weeks of its multipronged invasion, Russia has since narrowed its objectives by focusing on the Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014, and on a stretch of coastal territory along the Sea of Azov from Mariupol to the Crimean Peninsula. One Russian advantage is this region’s proximity to Russian territory, which allows for shorter supply lines than earlier battles in Ukraine’s north.

WHAT ELSE IS THE U.S. PROVIDING?

In addition to the 72 howitzers and the vehicles required to move them around the battlefield, the new weapons package for Ukraine includes artillery rounds and armed drones from U.S. Air Force stocks. Still in the pipeline from a separate $800 million weapons package announced only last week is a wide range of articles, including radars used to enable the targeting of Russian artillery, as well as air surveillance radars and unmanned coastal drone vessels.

“Artillery and drones are the exact things Ukraine will need as Russia heads into its next campaign in the East and South,” said Mark Montgomery, a retired Navy rear admiral who previously served with U.S. European Command in helping improve U.S.-Ukrainian military relations. Montgomery is now an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The drone included in the latest package is called the Phoenix Ghost, made by a U.S. company, Aevex Aerospace, which bills itself as a leader in “full-spectrum airborne intelligence solutions.” Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, declined to describe the drone’s capabilities beyond saying that it is used “largely but not exclusively to attack targets.” It also has onboard cameras.

Kirby said the drones are especially well suited for the terrain on which the Ukrainians are fighting in the Donbas.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is welcomed by Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Akasak...
Associated Press

In Tokyo, Harris calls US-Japan alliance ‘a cornerstone’

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Monday shortly after arriving in Tokyo for the state funeral of his predecessor, Shinzo Abe. Abe, who was assassinated in July, will be honored on Tuesday, and Harris is leading a U.S. delegation to pay its respects. “The alliance […]
1 day ago
FILE - Belgium's Vincent Van Quickenborne arrives at the Prime Ministers office for a meeting in Br...
Associated Press

Belgian justice minister under protection over kidnap plot

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium’s justice minister remained under protection Monday after four people suspected of taking part in a plot by alleged drugs criminals to kidnap him were arrested in the Netherlands. Vincent Van Quickenborne said in a message on social media that he is “safe and in good hands” but will have to skip […]
1 day ago
Mahamat Said Abdel Kani enters the court room of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Net...
Associated Press

Alleged Central African Republic rebel goes on trial at ICC

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An alleged senior leader of a predominantly Muslim rebel group that ousted the president of Central African Republic in 2013 pleaded not guilty Monday to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. After a court officer read out charges including torture, unlawful imprisonment […]
1 day ago
South Korean firefighters work at a shopping mall in Daejeon, South Korea, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. ...
Associated Press

Fire in shopping mall in South Korean city leaves 7 dead

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A fire broke out at the basement of a shopping mall in the South Korean city of Daejeon on Monday, killing at least seven people, officials said. Firefighters were continuing to search for survivors after putting out the blaze, said Go Seung-cheol, an official at the Daejeon Fire Headquarters. He […]
1 day ago
Five Stars Movement leader Giuseppe Conte speaks during a press conference at his electoral headqua...
Associated Press

Italy shifts to the right as voters reward Meloni’s party

ROME (AP) — A party with neo-fascist roots, the Brothers of Italy, won the most votes in Italy’s national elections, looking set to deliver the country’s first far-right-led government since World War II and make its leader, Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first woman premier, near-final results showed Monday. Italy’s lurch to the far right immediately shifted […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

9 dead, 20 wounded in school shooting in Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A gunman on Monday morning killed nine people and wounded 20 others in a school in central Russia, authorities said. Russia’s Investigative Committee said in an online statement that two guards, two teachers and five students were killed in the shooting in a school in Izhevsk, a city about 960 kilometres (596 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
EXPLAINER: Why Washington is boosting heavy arms for Ukraine