Pentagon says U.S. will start training Ukrainians on howitzers in DAYS

Pentagon says U.S. will start training Ukrainians on howitzers in DAYS

April 18, 2022

Pentagon confirms U.S. will start training Ukrainians how to use howitzers in DAYS as Zelensky says Putin has launches his full-scale offensive to take control of Donbas

  • 18 howitzers are being sent to Ukraine in the latest round of security aid 
  • Spokesman John Kirby said training on the weapons would start in days 
  • It will happen outside Ukraine but he did not say who would conduct the training
  • The latest package of $800 million of aid includes 40,000 artillery rounds
  • It comes as both sides prepare for an intensified Russian assault in Donbas 

The United States military will start training Ukrainians on using howitzer artillery in the coming days, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday. 

President Joe Biden last week announced another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine, sending for the first time heavy artillery systems ahead of an expected Russian assault in eastern Ukraine. 

Minutes after Kirby made the announcement Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said Russia had begun the ‘battle of Donbas.’ 

Kirby said the training would happen outside of Ukraine.  

‘I’m going to refrain right now from talking about who’s going to be doing the training and exactly on what timeline,’ he told reporters during a briefing.

‘I think as we get closer to things, we may be able to talk a little bit more about it. 

‘But there is a plan now that we are beginning to execute and we think that that training can happen in the next several days.’ 

He said the plan was to train personnel who would then be able to take their knowledge home to then train soldiers in Ukraine.

And he said the training would not take long.   

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that the U.S. will begin training Ukrainian troops in how to use howitzer artillery in the coming days

The U.S. is sending 18 howitzers to Ukraine in its latest aid package. British troops are seen here using  55mm self-propelled howitzers in Saudi Arabia in 1991

‘They understand how to use artillery, and … we don’t believe will take very long or require much detailed training to get them up to speed on American howitzers,’ he said.

Four planes delivered aid over the weekend – and a fifth was due to arrive on Monday. 

The U.S. has already revealed that Ukrainian forces have been trained in how to use Switchblade drones – single use, Kamikaze drones that crash into their targets. 

Kirby said the latest aid package included 18 howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds. 

‘Artillery is a specific item that the Ukrainians asked for, because of the fighting that they expect is going to occur in the Donbas,’ he said.

Moscow has withdrawn its troops from the advance on Kyiv after weeks of fierce resistance. And the Kremlin said Donbas was now its main goal. 

Earlier a senior defence official said Russia had sent 11 battalion tactical groups into Ukraine since late last week – raising the total to 76 in southern and eastern Ukraine. 

Pictured: Smoke rises after 5 aimed missile strikes hit Lviv, Ukraine on April 18, 2022 

Five ‘powerful’ Russian missile strikes hit Lviv early Monday, in a rare attack on a western city that has so far been spared much of the fighting since the Russian invasion began. Pictured: Locals watch on as firefighters battle a blaze after a civilian building was hit by a Russian missile on April 18, Lviv

In an evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said the offensive had begun.

‘We can now say that Russian forces have started the battle of the Donbas, for which they have long prepared,’ he said.

Kirby said Ukraine had asked for howitzers as it prepared for the Russian attack.  

‘But the terrain lends itself to the use of artillery to long range fires, as we call it,’ he said.

‘And we know that the Russians also believe the same thing because we’re seeing them move artillery units into the Donbass as well. 

‘And so we want to give the Ukrainians every bit of advantage that we can.’

Meanwhile five ‘powerful’ Russian missile strikes left at least seven people dead and eleven more injured in Lviv early Monday, the regional governor has said, as multiple Russian attacks rocked Ukraine overnight. 

The strikes were a rare fatal attack on the city 40 miles from the border with Poland that has so far been spared much of the fighting since the Russian invasion began almost two months ago, on February 24. 

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin sent up his strategic bombers in the skies over Western Russia today amid huge pressure on the Kremlin over the sinking of the Moskva flagship in the Black Sea.

Videos from today and Saturday caught four of the aircraft – used to carry nuclear bombs – over the Kaluga region, between Moscow and the Ukrainian border. The planes are believed to be Russian Tu-95s, known as Bears, and appeared to be flying in striking distance of Ukraine.

The Tu-95s have been used a number of times to strike targets in Ukraine with non-nuclear weapons, notably Kh-55 and Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles. The super-loud Tu-95 is the only propeller-powered strategic bomber still in operational use today, and the plane first flew 70 years ago. 

In Lviv, footage showed plumes of thick, black smoke rising over the city after a series of explosions shattered windows and started fires, while one video filmed by a civilian appeared to show a cruise missile flying overhead.

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