The US President Joe Biden and GermanChancellor Olaf Scholz agreed Thursday to send powerfully armed infantryfighting vehicles to Ukraine, marking a new phrase of Western militarysupport to repel Russia's invasion.
Germany will also follow the United States in sending a state-of-the-artPatriot missile system to Ukraine to help ward off Russian air attacks.
The two leaders said that the United States will supply Bradleys -- whichusually come armed with 25 mm autocannon, a 7.62 mm machine-gun and anti-tankmissiles -- and Germany will send Marder armored vehicles, with each countryoffering training.
Biden and Scholz "reaffirmed their unwavering solidarity with Ukraine and theUkrainian people in the face of Russia's aggression," a joint statement said.
Biden, speaking afterwards at a cabinet meeting, said that he agreed withScholz to "increase the support for Ukraine."
"Right now, the war in Ukraine is at a critical point," Biden said. "We haveto do everything we can to help the Ukrainians resist Russian aggression."
The Pentagon and State Department said that the armored vehicles would bepart of a larger package of military assistance announced over the comingday.
While the armored vehicles being sent are not tanks, the Bradleys provide "alevel of firepower and armor that will bring advantages on the battlefield,"Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder said.
"It's not a tank, but it's a tank killer," Ryder told reporters.
"We're confident that it will aid them on the battlefield," he said.
The United States could train Ukrainian forces on the Patriot system insidethe United States.
"We're exploring a variety of options to include potential training here inthe US, overseas or a combination of both," Ryder said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the transfer of armored vehicleswas approved due to changing realities in the nearly one-year-old war, wherethe frontlines now include the eastern Donbas region after Russia failed toseize the capital Kyiv.
The United States is providing Ukrainians with "what they need to defendthemselves, based in large part on where the battle is now," Price toldreporters.
"Now that we are seeing fronts emerge and intensify in various partsincluding in the Donbas," Price said, "there are certain systems includingthese fighting vehicles that the Ukrainians have requested and that we deemare appropriate to provide."
Germany's shipment of a Patriot system follows a similar announcement by theUnited States two weeks ago during a visit to Washington by UkrainianPresident Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukraine has long pushed for heavier weaponry, including tanks, that wouldallow it to go on the offensive. Western nations have been reluctant to sendthem, citing fears of becoming drawn into the war or provoking Russia.
But the Ukrainians have built momentum and Western nations have beenexpanding the weapons they send them.
The announcement comes a day after France promised to deliver its AMX-10 RClight tanks -- a vehicle that is wheeled rather than tracked but which sharesthe much heavier cannon typical on a tank.
The French move put Scholz under fresh political pressure to do more to helpUkraine.-AFP