Biden announced that the US would send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

General Valery Gerasimov speaks during a defense conference in Moscow on May 23, 2013. (Photo: Mikhail Metzel/AP)

Ukrainian officials say the Russians are learning from their mistakes on the battlefield and making it harder for Ukrainian missiles to hit their ammunition depots and logistics centers. That’s why, they say, Ukraine needs long-range missiles that can hit Russia.

They believe the appointment of General Valery Gerasimov as commander of the Russian offensive in Ukraine is the final round of the dice after several changes in the Kremlin’s military hierarchy.

Vadim Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine’s security intelligence service, told CNN on Monday that the Russians had begun dispersing military logistics “across the Russian Federation.”

In particular, he said, “everything is moved through the Crimean peninsula to the southern regions” from logistics centers in Russia’s Rostov region.

“If you’re thinking about what’s important for the Russian Federation, these centers are the centers of gravity, and they need to be hit to disrupt all kinds of distribution systems,” Skibitsky said.

This requires strikes against facilities not only in Russian-occupied Crimea, but “even in the Russian Federation,” Skibitsky said.

He described Russian logistics systems as being located 80-120 kilometers (50-75 miles) from the front lines, meaning Ukraine would need long-range strike systems to attack them.

Another reason for long-range artillery: Several Ukrainian officials have told CNN that Ukraine wants to launch a counterattack before Russian reinforcements are mounted and ready to move. But for that, Kiev can go further.

“To prepare a counterattack or an offensive operation, it is necessary to destroy several installations not only on the front line, but behind the enemy at a distance of 100-150 kilometers,” Skibitsky said.

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“Especially now, to create strong strike groups, we need tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, heavy weapons that allow rapid counter-attack operations against the enemy.”

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