The Pentagon is weighing sending Stryker armored vehicles to Ukraine to help repel an expected Russian offensive in the spring, two people with knowledge of the matter told Politico.
The Strykers could be included in the next military aid package, a Department of Defense (DoD) official told the outlet on condition of anonymity. With or without the armored vehicles, the White House may announce the aid package late next week.
The sources stressed that a final decision has not yet been made and the Strykers could be delayed and sent in a future aid package instead.
“We have no announcements to make at this time,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Garron Garn told Politico.
The news comes after the Biden administration announced last week that it will send Ukraine 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, powerful tracked armored vehicles that carry machine guns, autocannons and TOW antitank missiles.
Amid growing concern that Moscow is planning a major new offensive in the coming weeks, Strykers would bolster Kyiv’s arsenal and would help meet the pressing need for armor.
Manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the 19-ton, eight-wheeled Stryker can operate in snow, mud and sand, though it’s not as powerful or protective as tanks.
“Ukrainians need armored personnel carriers and short of other countries providing it, is what we have in inventory,”the DoD official said. “Not as good as a Bradley for a tank fight, but good to protect infantry and get up close to a fight.”
While the U.S. has already sent combat vehicles by the thousands, including Humvees and mine-resistant vehicles to transport troops on the battlefield, Strykers could offer a unique advantage.
According to Army operators, the armored vehicle is quieter than a Bradley when it moves and is also able to carry more troops — nine instead of the six a standard M2 can carry.
Providing the Ukrainians with powerful armored vehicles, such as Bradleys and Strykers, could be the first step to sending tanks, but Western nations have been debating who should do so first for months.
“There’s a strange back and forth with the Europeans where any time anyone asks, the Europeans they say, ‘Well, you know, the U.S. should go first,’ a person with knowledge of the discussions told Politico.
“And the administration said, ‘Well, we want the Europeans to go first or we want to do it together.’ And the Ukrainians are just saying, ‘For the love of God, just give us the tanks.'”
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