Despite reports that Russia’s military advance remains stalled outside of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is still weighing the option of deploying more American troops to NATO’s eastern members, according to a senior U.S. defense official.
The official noted that some of Russia’s forces are even “suffering from frostbite,” adding that Ukrainian resistance forces were continuing to defend their territory in a “very nimble, agile way.”
“Because they lack the appropriate cold weather gear for the environment that they’re in,” the official explained. “In addition to food and fuel, even in terms of personal equipment for some of their troops, they’re having trouble.”
“What we’re starting to see are indications that they are now able and willing to take back territory that the Russians have taken,” the official added.
When the invasion of Ukraine began in late February, President Joe Biden ordered 7,000 more U.S. troops to positions in Europe. The Department of Defense released a statement announcing the troop movement to bolster U.S. commitments to its European allies, and to act as a deterrent against Russian military action past the border of Ukraine.
“At the direction of the President, Secretary of Defense Austin has ordered the deployment to Europe of approximately 7,000 additional Service Members. This would comprise an armored brigade combat team with associated capabilities and enablers. They will deploy to Germany to reassure NATO Allies, deter Russian aggression and be prepared to support a range of requirements in the region. We expect them to depart in the coming days,” the Pentagon’s announcement said.
While Biden has repeatedly confirmed his view that American troops should not be sent to Ukraine, he did announce an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine following Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech to the U.S. Congress last week, bringing the total U.S. security assistance committed to Ukraine to $1 billion in just the past week, and a total of $2 billion since the start of the Biden Administration.
“The assistance will take the form of direct transfers of equipment from the Department of Defense to the Ukrainian military to help them defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion,” the White House stated.
“This could be a long and difficult battle, but the American people will be steadfast in our support for the people in Ukraine in the face of Putin’s immoral, unethical attacks on civilian populations,” Biden said.
The new $800 million assistance package included:
- 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems;
- 2,000 Javelin, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems;
- 100 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems;
- 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, and 400 shotguns;
- Over 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenade launcher and mortar rounds;
- 25,000 sets of body armor; and
- 25,000 helmets.