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US dispatching bridge-launchers to Ukraine for spring fight

The US has announced a new $400 million military aid package for Ukraine that for the first time includes armoured vehicles that can launch bridges — allowing troops to cross rivers or other gaps as Russian and Ukrainian forces remain entrenched on opposite sides of the Dnieper River.

This round of aid on Friday will be drawn from existing US weapons stockpiles so it can arrive in Ukraine faster.

The US and allies are trying to rush additional support to Kiev to best position it for intensified spring fighting.

The Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge is a portable, 18-metre folding metal bridge that is carried on top of a tank body.

Providing that system now could make it easier for Ukrainian troops to cross rivers to get to Russian forces.

Because Ukraine also continues to face shortages of ammunition in the intense firefight, this aid package, like previous ones, includes thousands of replacement rounds, such as rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and 155mm Howitzer rounds.

This package also includes demolition munitions and equipment for clearing obstacles to help Ukraine break through dug-in lines.

The war had largely slowed to a grinding stalemate during the winter months, with Russia and Ukraine firing at each other from across the river. Both sides are expected to launch offensives as temperatures warm.

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US military aid to Ukraine

Since Russia entered Ukraine a year ago, the US has sent in more than $32 billion in weapons and equipment.

The US is also roughly tripling the number of Ukrainian forces it is training on advanced battle tactics at a base in Germany, to help them punch through entrenched Russian lines.

At the Grafenwoehr training area, Ukrainian forces run through a five-week course that prepares them to conduct advanced combined arms maneuvers with Bradley fighting vehicles, M109 Paladins and Stryker armored personnel carriers.

The first 600 Ukrainian troops completed the course last month and 1,600 more are in training.

The aid will also include spare parts and equipment for vehicle maintenance and repair.

The announcement comes on the heels of a brief meeting Thursday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at a gathering of top diplomats from the Group of 20 nations in New Delhi.

It was the highest-level in-person talk between the two countries since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But there was no indication of any movement toward easing the intense tensions between the two nations.

Blinken said he told Lavrov the US would continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Lavrov, who did not mention speaking with Blinken when he held a news conference after the meeting, told reporters Moscow would continue to press its action in Ukraine.

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