The roughly $ 3 billion military package aims to increase Ukraine's counteroffensive ability
The US has pledged to sending fifty units of M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles
The US administration’s decision to sanction another major military aid package from Ukraine has been making ripples in the international security discourse. This time, it is a massive $3 billion dollar package involving the transfer of about fifty M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and a hundred Stryker combat vehicles to aid the Ukrainian land forces.
Ever since the inception of the war in Ukraine, the US has pledged military aid to the country in terms of sanctioning of defence articles and services for defensive purposes. This comes under the important Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 in the United States that permits the country’s administration to relay this kind of support in terms of military aid. However, in the case of Ukraine, the Presidential Drawdown Authority has been invoked almost at every instance of the different aid packages, which suggests that the transfer of defence equipment could happen under emergency circumstances. With the rapidly unfolding events along the faultines of Ukraine’s war, it is without a doubt possible that such emergency circumstances can occur where the country could be in dire need of new military articles for counteroffensive strikes against Russian forces.
As per the Presidential Drawdown Authority, the President of the United States is bestowed upon the responsibility to sanction any military aid to another country in the situation of utmost emergency and without the need of prior approval from the US Congress.
It is certainly not the first instance of a foreign aid package from the United States to Ukraine but why is it that this package and the involved military vehicles have grabbed the attention of the world? One possible reason is that it could also signal a significant shift in the strategic posture of the United States as far as the war in Ukraine is concerned. The other reason is that the military vehicles could provide Ukraine with a stronger counter-offensive capability as opposed to the previous military articles that were primarily defensive.
The military vehicles
The Bradley fighting vehicles and the Stryker combat vehicles are both now being considered extremely vital for increasing the strategic abilities of the Ukrainian land forces.
The Bradley fighting vehicles, considered to be the ‘tank killer’ by the US Department of Defence are primarily important to provide enhancement to transportation of infantry to critical points along the battlefield. These vehicles are lightweight, more agile and also used for personnel transportation across the field. Not just mobility, the vehicles are also designed for combat and equipped with a 25mm autocannon that can fire up to 200 rounds per minute. The vehicle also possesses an anti-tank guided missile for targeting enemy tanks.
Targeting can be a very strong suit for this vehicle because of its high resolution thermal imaging that places it well above the Russian BMP tanks in terms of optics. The vehicle is also better armoured and even resistant to radiation exposure.
The other set of military vehicles to be sent to Ukraine is the Stryker combat vehicles. Also called the ‘swiss army knife’ of combat vehicles, the Stryker is an armoured combat vehicle that also serves as an infantry carrier owing to its high mobility capacity.
It could be noted that a certain focus is being given to providing high armoured agile vehicles to Ukraine and these vehicles are also powered with combat weapons that could aid the Ukrainian forces to launch a counter offensive against Russia. The weapons sent from the US to Ukraine were largely defensive whereas the Bradley and Stryker signifies a departure from this posture as it is an offensive tool, that is, on the tactical level. It might permit the Ukrainian armed forces to be more proactive and even take control of the land that goes beyond Melitopol, all the way to Crimea. The city of Melitopol is very strategic for this purpose and the highly efficient military vehicles can help Ukraine form a strong resistance to the Russian forces to reach the Russian bases in Crimea.
Risk of escalation
The Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov has even gone on to say that the United States has developed a ‘militant’ posture against Russia by elevating the option of an attack in Crimea.
The question of Crimea is important in this regard. The United States had maintained a rather cryptic stand over launching an offensive directly against the Russian bases in Crimea. This shift in the US posture could indicate that the west may be running out of time or would be willing to let the conflict escalate even further.
This posture might end up heating the situation even further and the US would have to deploy more and more offensive tactical weapons on the ground to sustain Ukraine’s position. The move signals some combat operations from Ukraine’s side in the coming months especially when the US has started advance combat training of the US forces in Germany. In one view, it adds to Ukraine's capabilities to defend itself against Russia but at the same time this move also runs the risk of prolonging the conflict even further and leaving less room for diplomacy or negotiations.
All $ = USD