Ukraine has what it needs militarily to conduct a much-anticipated counteroffensive against Russia, a Pentagon official said.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, speaking at Tuesday's press briefing, said the U.S. and its allies have helped to give a Ukraine a "very strong hand" in preparation for the counteroffensive.
"They have nine mechanized armored brigades that we've provided, they have significant air defense capability," Ryder said. "The entire world has come together to ensure that they have ammunition and, importantly, we're also providing training, and we're working very closely with them on sustainment and logistics aspects.
"So as they prepare to conduct counteroffensive operations, they have got a very strong hand and we're very confident that they have the combat capability that they'll need."
Nearly two weeks ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country's military needed more time to prepare an anticipated counteroffensive aimed at pushing back Russian occupying forces.
In an interview broadcast May 11 by the BBC, Zelenskyy said it would be "unacceptable" to launch the assault then because too many lives would be lost.
Ukrainian national security adviser Oleksiy Danilov told CNN on Tuesday that Zelenskyy will have final say on when to launch the counteroffensive.
"We are clearly aware of when, where, how and what should start," Danilov told CNN. "The final decision is up to the president and the security staff. When the decision is made, Russia will definitely feel it."
Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov told Japanese TV channel NHK that his country now has enough weapons, and the counteroffensive would begin "soon," NOEL Reports tweeted.
President Joe Biden informed G-7 leaders on Friday that Washington supports a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, a senior administration official said, a key endorsement as Kyiv seeks to boost its air power against Russia's invading forces.
Ryder said Ukrainian pilots could begin training to fly U.S.-made F-16s "within weeks or months."
"We're working through the details. I'm not going to get into timelines right now," Ryder said. "We would hope that we will — we'll be able to start the training within weeks or months in the relatively near term.
"In terms of deliveries, again, we'll keep you updated on that front. But we're going to work closely with our allies and our partners on ensuring that the Ukrainian pilots are trained on the F-16, and then at some point in time, we'll be able to have the actual aircraft."
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