The US is deliberating whether to send weapons to Ukraine which will make it possible for the country to launch attacks on Russia-annexed Crimea in an effort to strengthen Kyiv’s negotiation position. However, no final decision has been made, The New York Times reports citing US officials.
After several months of discussions with Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration “is starting to concede” that Kyiv might require help to strike the peninsula which houses tens of thousands of Russian troops and a multitude of Russian military bases.
Even if this step will increase the risk of escalation according to several US officials who speak with the newspaper on the condition of anonymity.
Washington has reached a conclusion that if Ukrainian troops can demonstrate to Russia that Crimea can be recaptured, it will bolster Kyiv’s position at any future talks. Moreover, the worries that the Kremlin will use tactical nukes in response were alleviated, US officials and experts said, warning that the risk remains.
US officials and their Ukrainian counterparts are discussing the possibility of using HIMARS missile systems and Bradley fighting vehicles, supplied by the US, to capture territories that create a land bridge to Crimea through Melitopol and Mariupol.
Moreover, the US is finalising its large-scale military aid package for Ukraine amounting to $2.6 billion, AP writes. It is expected that the package will include around 100 Stryker fighting vehicles and at least 50 Bradley armoured vehicles, the news broke out today.
White House officials insist that the US position on Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea has not changed. “We have said throughout the war that Crimea is Ukraine, and Ukraine has the right to defend themselves and their sovereign territory in their internationally recognized borders,” said Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Military and civil officials earlier privately raised doubts about the benefits of attacking Crimea, claiming that Kyiv has better targets elsewhere on the battlefield.
The Ukrainian authorities have long been stressing that Crimea represents an important target for their attacks, while continuing to put pressure on Russian military bases is a vital part of their strategy. Ukrainian army representatives also discussed with Washington the importance of putting even more pressure on Russia’s rear supply lines in Crimea.