The US is preparing a new massive $2.5 billion arms package for Ukraine that will include Stryker armored combat vehicles for the first time and could be announced this week, multiple media outlets have reported.
The tranche of weapons is expected to include Bradley Fighting Vehicles as well, which the US first pledged to send to Ukraine as part of an over $3 billion arms package that was announced earlier this month.
The new package will likely be announced this Friday as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is chairing a meeting of military officials from about 50 nations on new military aid to Kyiv, known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Sources told The Washington Post that the new package could include up to 100 Strykers, which are made by General Dynamics and are designed to transport troops with extra protection, similar to the Bradleys. The Stryker is lighter and faster than the Bradleys and is on wheels as opposed to tracks.
Both vehicles can be used to go on the offense, and that’s what US officials have in mind for the new transfer. Germany and France have also pledged to send similar armored vehicles.
The UK said it would send 14 of its main battle tanks, the Challenger 2, but it’s not clear if Kyiv will get more Western-made heavy tanks. Berlin is hesitant to sign off on deliveries of its Leopard 2, and US officials signaled this week that they wouldn’t be sending the M1 Abrams.
While Ukraine is receiving a significant amount of new armor, Valery Zaluchny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, said in December that he needs at least 300 heavy tanks and 600-700 fighting vehicles if he is to stand a chance to drive Russia out of the territory it’s captured.
US military aid for Ukraine is being pulled from funds that have already been authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, which at this point amounts to about $113 billion.