President Biden is promising more artillery for Ukraine as they battle Russian forces in the disputed Donbas region, even before the first consignment of U.S.-surplus howitzers has been loaded up and shipped out to the battlefield.
Mr. Biden made the promise while talking with reporters Tuesday during a visit to New Hampshire. His pledge comes as America delivers $800 million worth of military hardware to Ukraine, ranging from more than 5,000 Javelin anti-armor systems to 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets.
The Pentagon says it has located 18 155-mm howitzers that will be sent to Ukraine. Defense Department officials were confident that they could draw 40,000 artillery rounds from prepositioned stocks in Europe to go with the cannons.
“It won’t take very long to get the artillery rounds where they need to be,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.
Field artillery was at the top of the Ukrainians’ wish list as they prepare for battles in the east and south where the terrain is level and ideal for long-range fires. The Defense Department looked at what was immediately available in the inventory and opted to send Ukraine the 18 towed artillery pieces. Although Pentagon officials have not confirmed the model, the 18 cannons will likely be either the M-198 howitzer or the newer M-777 — the only towed 155-mm howitzers used by U.S. troops.
It is “certainly within the realm of the possible” that Ukraine will require more artillery systems and ammo as the upcoming conflict intensifies, Mr. Kirby said. If necessary, the Pentagon will be able to again dip into its own stock and locate additional howitzers — as it did with the initial shipment.
“If the Ukrainians desire more artillery support, then we’re going to flow additional artillery support,” he said.