By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON – Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the latest supply of U.S. weaponry is in place and training has been provided, a senior Biden administration official said on Friday.
The official, speaking to a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said the United States was holding fast to its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid a controversy with Germany over tanks.
U.S. talks with Ukraine about any counter-offensive have been in the context of ensuring the Ukrainians devote enough time first to training on the latest weaponry provided by the United States, the official said.
The United States on Thursday announced it will send hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine for use in the fight.
Bad winter weather has hindered fighting on the front lines, although a cold snap that freezes and hardens the ground could pave the way for either side to launch an offensive with heavy equipment, Serhiy Haidai, governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, said.
The official said the United States does not plan at this juncture to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine because they are costly and difficult to maintain.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on Friday denied Berlin was unilaterally blocking the shipment of Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine but said the government was ready to move quickly to send them if there was consensus among allies.