Cooper praised Ukraine’s liberation of the strategic Lyman rail hub in the east over the weekend as Kyiv forces advance into the Donbas region. In the last 24 hours, Ukraine has also made significant progress in the south of the country, around the Kherson region, Cooper said, confirming Ukrainian reports of its progress.
The latest weapons package, the first of the new fiscal year, is tailored to Kyiv’s needs as forces continue to retake territory on two fronts. It includes four high-mobility artillery rocket systems, bringing the total number of systems the U.S. has provided to 20. It also includes 200 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, a significant increase from the 40 the administration Biden transferred to Kyiv in August.
The new MRAPs, which are well known for protecting troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, will provide Ukraine with a “rugged capability to transport troops into heavily mined terrain,” Cooper said.
The package, which involves removing equipment from existing stocks, is the first since September 15. It also includes artillery, mortar and precision-guided projectiles, small arms ammunition, and anti-personnel mines.
The new weapons will provide Kyiv with the “additional capability and ammunition it needs to maintain momentum in the east and south, including additional artillery and precision fires,” Cooper said.
Ukraine has recently renewed calls for Washington to send longer-range rockets for HIMARS, the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, but the administration has so far refused.
The Pentagon assesses that Ukraine can hit “the vast majority of battlefield targets” with the short-range rockets it provides, including in Crimea, Cooper said.
“Just to be clear, Crimea is Ukraine,” he added.