WASHINGTON, AP -- Western allies have been shipping billions of dollars of weapons systems and ammo to Ukraine for months in an effort to deliver the supplies to Kyiv before an anticipated spring offensive.
Summer is only a few weeks away. The Ukrainian spring offensive is yet to start. While Russia and Ukraine are focusing on a fierce battle for Bakhmut.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the delay was due to a lack of Western weapons in his country. Officials and defense experts agree that weather and training also play a part.
Officials say the counteroffensive will come. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive issues, said that Ukraine has already started to make preliminary moves to create the conditions for an attack.
The factors that are delaying the counteroffensive, and what both sides are doing to prepare for it.
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Weather is a major factor in the delay. The weather has played a major role in the delay.
The ground is now covered in a thick mud, making it difficult for vehicles without tracks to move.
Officials said that the mud was like soup. "You just sink in it."
The U.S., along with its allies, have trained tens and thousands of Ukrainian soldiers for combat in the last few months. The final Ukrainian battalion that the U.S. currently trains is only just finishing up its course.
The U.S. now has more than 10,700 Ukrainians trained in this battle. These forces learned not only advanced field and medical skills, but also advanced combined weapons tactics using Stryker and Bradley armoured fighting vehicles as well as Paladin self propelled howitzers. This includes highly-skilled forces that were trained in the Patriot missile defence system.
According to U.S. Army Europe and Africa, up to 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers a day participate in other training programmes run by over 30 partner nations.
In the near future, a new phase of training will begin. The U.S. military will train Ukrainians to operate Abrams tanks in Germany's Grafenwoehr Training Area. The Ukrainians will not wait until the tank training is complete before launching their counteroffensive. This was the statement made by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Resnikov to reporters at the end of April.
Arrival of Weapons
The U.S. announced that it would send over $14 billion worth of weapons and ammunition directly to Kyiv in the last five months. Most of the stockpiles are being emptied to speed up the delivery. NATO and Western Allies also responded, promising billions of dollars in tanks, armored cars and air defense systems.
Ben Barry, former British intelligence officer and senior land warfare fellow of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says that a lot hasn't yet arrived.
Only 100 of the 300 tanks pledged, such as the Leopard 2 tank promised by Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, have been delivered. Only 300 of the 700-plus fighting vehicles pledged, including British Marauders, U.S. Bradley infantry combat vehicles and Dutch Leopard 2 tanks, have been delivered, according to him.
Barry added that the chief military logistics officer in Ukraine would also be able to influence when the army was ready to launch.
Oleksandra Ustina, a Ukrainian parliament member, told reporters that Ukraine fires between 6,000 to 8,000 rounds of 155mm Howitzer per day.
Both Russia and Ukraine have taken steps to prepare for the counteroffensive.
A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Russia had approximately 200,000 soldiers along a 1,000 kilometer battle line. They were using trench warfare tactics similar to those used during World War I.
The troops that invaded the country were not as well-trained as Russia, who suffered heavy losses. They are protected by minefields, dragon's teeth and ditches -- concrete barriers in the shape of triangles that rise above ground to make it hard for tanks.
Ukraine is also preparing its operations. For example, it has started to fire long-range artillery at Russia's front lines. This could indicate that Ukraine will soon move forward in that area, or it may be a ruse to divert Russia's attention away from the actual first strike that Russia has planned.
Barry and the Western official both said that if Ukraine attempts to break through these lines, whether it is in a small area or in a complex campaign conducted in multiple locations, this will likely be an indication of the offensive beginning.
Barry said that when Ukrainian brigades cross into Russian-held territory and attempt to attack the Russian first line of defense, "that will be a dead give away I think."