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U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on an offensive, an official said

U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to hold off on an offensive, an official said

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WASHINGTON, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to delay launching a major offensive against Russian forces until the last supplies of U.S. weapons are secured and training is in place, 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 stands by its decision not to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine at this time, amid conflict with Germany over tanks.

U.S. talks with Ukraine about any counteroffensive have been in the context of ensuring the Ukrainians spend enough time first training on the latest weapons provided by the United States, the official said.

U.S. officials believe an offensive would be more successful if the Ukrainians took advantage of training and a significant infusion of new weapons.

The United States on Thursday announced it would send hundreds of armored vehicles in Ukraine for use in the battle.

A high-level US delegation, including Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and White House Deputy National Security Adviser John Feiner, has been in Kyiv in recent days for talks with Ukrainian officials.

The message from the Americans was that Ukraine had spent significant resources defending the city of Bakhmut, but there was a high potential that the Russians would eventually push the Ukrainians out of that city, the official said.

If that happens, it won’t lead to any strategic change on the battlefield, the official said.

One consideration for the Ukrainians, the official said, is how much they continue to target Bakhmut’s defenses as they prepare for an offensive to try to drive the Russians out of areas they hold in southern Ukraine.

U.S. officials are working with the Ukrainians on that compromise, the official said.

On another front, U.S. officials are advising Ukraine to adjust the way Kyiv is waging war, away from trying to match Russia round for round with artillery fire, because Moscow will eventually gain an advantage through attrition, the official said.

That’s why the latest U.S. arms shipment includes armored vehicles because it will help Ukraine change the way it wages war, the official said.

The bad winter weather has hindered the battle on the front lines, though a cold snap that freezes and hardens the ground could pave the way for either country to launch an offensive with heavy equipment, said Serhiy Haydai, governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region.

The official said the United States does not currently plan to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine because they are expensive and difficult to maintain.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on Friday denied Berlin unilaterally blocked the delivery 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.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Howard Goller and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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