Ukraine’s appeal to the US and NATO from the frozen trenches near the border with Russia: send tanks

Near the Ukrainian-Russian border — UkraineThe country’s leaders on Thursday reiterated their pleas for the country’s western allies to send modern battle tanks and other heavy weapons to help them repel the Russian invasion. US officials are scheduled to discuss the request again with NATO allies in Germany on Friday. So far, Germany has resisted US-backed demands from Ukraine to send modern “Leopard” tanks, and Berlin has urged Washington to make a similar commitment beforehand.

A US official has confirmed to CBS News that another military aid package worth about $2.5 billion to Ukraine is set to be announced on Friday. The US hardware drop is expected to include about 100 Stryker armored fighting vehicles, as well as more of the more rugged Bradley fighting vehicles.

Ukrainian troops in the US for training on the Patriot missile defense system


CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said the vehicles, along with the main battle tanks Ukraine is hoping for, would be used to launch a counteroffensive against Russian positions in the east of the country.

There, Ukrainian forces are engaged in a brutal land war, along a front line that stretches north-south across the country. Their efforts to regain ground in eastern Ukraine, which has been occupied for months by Russia, have been hampered by cold weather, difficult terrain – and, Ukrainian commanders say, outdated equipment.

CBS News this week visited some of the Ukrainian troops who held that front line and got a harrowing glimpse into a trench warfare that looks like it should have been left behind in another era.

After a bumpy ride on freezing, muddy roads, we reached an unknown location on the front line, not far from the Russian border, where we met the men of the Bogun Special Forces Brigade.

Major Chekan, a commander of Ukraine’s Bogun Special Forces Brigade, leads CBS News correspondent Debora Patta through a trench on the front lines of his country’s war against the Russian invasion.

CBS News

Looking up we saw the typical, idyllic Ukrainian pine forest. But below, carved deep into the earth, was a labyrinth of fortifications.

It is one thing to reclaim territory, but Ukraine must then defend it, which is why it has dug trenches hundreds of kilometers along the front line. In the dugouts, the soldiers face not only Russia’s weapons, but Mother Nature’s as well.

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Mud, rain and extreme cold are a constant presence and the Ukrainian armed forces are still preparing for the coldest weeks of winter.

In an underground bunker, a wood fire keeps the men from freezing to death. There are warm beds and warm food and drinks.

“It’s not that difficult, you can get used to tough conditions,” said Major Chekan.

The commander and his men have engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting in eastern Ukraine, literally digging in to defend against Russian offensives. And digging in eastern Ukraine in the middle of winter is “very difficult,” Chekan admitted. “It’s rock solid ice… with constant rain and snow.”

Members of Ukraine’s Bogun Special Forces Brigade fire artillery from a frontline position near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine, January 18, 2023.

CBS News

No matter how many kilometers of trenches he and his men dig along the front lines, Chekan said the quickest way for Ukraine to win the war Vladimir Putin started almost 11 months ago is with heavier weaponry.

That’s why he and other Ukrainian commanders have welcomed the US decision to deploy armored fighting vehicles and advanced missile defense systems.

But the message to the NATO commanders’ meeting in Germany this week is clear: What has been promised so far will not be enough. Ukraine’s appeal to the US and NATO from the frozen trenches near the border with Russia: send tanks

Rick Schindler

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