US begins training Ukrainian forces on howitzers

AP-Alexei Alexandrov
FILE – A serviceman stands at a building damaged during fighting in Mariupol, Ukraine, on April 13, 2022. Unbroken by a Russian blockade and relentless bombardment, the key port of Mariupol is still holding out, a symbol of staunch Ukrainian resistance that has thwarted the Kremlin’s invasion plans. More than six weeks after the Russian siege began, Ukrainian troops are continuing to fight the vastly superior Russian forces in ferocious battles amid the ruins of what once was a bustling city on the Sea of Azov coast. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)

Howitzer artillery and rounds for the system have arrived in Europe and U.S. troops have begun to train Ukrainian forces how to use them, a senior U.S. defense official said Wednesday. 

In the past 24 hours, four flights arrived in Europe carrying military aid for Ukraine from the $800 million package approved by the Biden administration last week.  

“Some of those flights did include howitzers,” the official told reporters. “In the next 24 [hours], there will be additional flights coming from the United States into the region with howitzers.” 

The official also said the training of “some small number” of Ukrainians on how to use howitzers has begun in an unnamed country outside of Ukraine, with training expected to last a week. 

Slightly more than 50 Ukrainians will be trained on the system, with those troops to then return to their country to train their colleagues, the official said.  

The U.S. is expected to send 18 howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds to Ukraine as part of the most recent multimillion presidential drawdown package. 

The system, which weighs 10,000 pounds, is a towed field artillery piece that can hit targets up to 30 kilometers, or 18 miles, away with 155 mm rounds.  

The Biden administration has sent more than $3.2 billion in security assistance to the country, including $2.6 billion since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. 

The administration is expected to announce another $800 million in military aid for Kyiv in the coming days. 

Tags Biden Howitzers Joe Biden Russia Ukraine

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