US doing ‘everything it can’ to help Ukraine on battlefield: Austin
Manila, Feb 2 (EFE).- The United States is doing everything it can to help Ukraine fight Russia on the battlefield, its defense secretary said Thursday, following Washington’s refusal to send fighter jets to Kyiv.
“We are doing everything we can to give them the capabilities they need to be effective on the battlefield,” Lloyd Austin at a press conference in Manila, where he has been on an official visit since arriving from Seoul on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden said Monday that he will not provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets, a resource that has become a priority for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in order to combat Russian troops.
“We made a big push (by) providing armored vehicles,” Austin justified, referring to the US announcement last month that it will send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine and immediately begin training Ukrainian soldiers in a third country in their use and maintenance.
“That is our focus as we bring this together in support of the Ukranians,” he added.
The tanks, which according to Biden are the most effective in the world, will take months to reach Ukraine and will be accompanied by M88 armored recovery vehicles for support.
Ukraine is now negotiating with Western allies for long-range missiles, according to a top Kyiv official.
Biden said he was planning to speak to Zelenskyy about future military aid packages amid reports Washington is preparing $2.2 billion worth of military aid for Kyiv, including longer-range rockets, international media reported on Wednesday. EFE