Several unnamed U.S. officials told The New York Times they are more comfortable with the idea of helping Ukraine launch an attack on the Russian-held Crimean peninsula.
The Crimean peninsula, which has been under Russian control since its annexation in 2014, has been further integrated into Russia's state infrastructure since it invaded Ukraine in early 2022. While the US has maintained that Crimea is still part of Ukraine , hesitated to become involved in the Crimean battlefield.
Fears that Russia would retaliate using tactical nuclear weapons have eased, officials say, meaning the risk of helping Ukraine's operations in Crimea may be worth it as the U.S. seeks to bolster Kiev's position in any future negotiations.
Ukraine will receive new shipments of ammunition and a variety of different items to help defend against the Russian invasion, which began almost a year ago. Weapons that appear to be destined for Ukraine will include new air defenses, artillery shells, missiles, rockets, armored vehicles and perhaps tanks.
This will give Kyiv the power not only to repel the Russians but also to defend against new attacks that Moscow may be planning. If the weapons systems are right and Ukraine can protect its skies and begin building up armored forces, it could blunt Russian attacks and push Moscow back.
Let's take a look at some recent reports. The US is “considering sending Stryker armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine in an upcoming aid package to help Kyiv. They may also send long range GLSDB missiles. These have a range of 150 km or 94 miles.
Ben Hodges, the former commander of US forces in Europe, said GLSDBs (ground-launched small-diameter bombs) would reduce the Russians' "refuge".
"Life is about to start getting very uncomfortable for Russian naval, air force and munitions operators in Crimea along the 'land bridge' and hopefully soon for repair crews on the Kerch bridge," he said.
What is so important about Crimea
Crimea lies between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and is home to about 2.4 million people, including about 70,000 Russian soldiers.
Ukrainian President Zelensky vowed in August to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over Russian-annexed Crimea, a move he said would help restore "global law and order."
"Everything started with Crimea and will end with Crimea," Zelensky said in a speech at the time.
Russia has shown no sign of abandoning Crimea, where its Black Sea fleet is based, and has used the peninsula as a platform to launch missile attacks on Ukrainian targets.
US officials have said they are discussing sending HIMARS missile systems and Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukrainian forces so they can fight for control of the Crimean bridgehead, a critical supply route for Russia's war effort.
"Ukraine could use the Bradley to move forces along major roads, such as the M14, which connects Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol," Seth G. Jones, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Times.
Any Ukrainian infantry advancing through these areas would face significant fire from Russian positions, and the Bradleys provide useful firepower and protection for the troops.