U.S. Adds Aid to Ukraine to Deliver Ammunition for Drones and Artillery
The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $300 million in military aid for Ukraine, the latest package of weapons and other military equipment that the United States has been sending to Kyiv since the beginning of Russia’s invasion.
The package includes additional ammunition for drones and long-range artillery. It also includes additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems as well as munitions for other air defense systems, including Stingers, Avengers and Aim-7 systems, the Pentagon said in a statement, as Kyiv gears up for its long-anticipated offensive to try to push Russian forces back and defend against aerial attacks from Moscow.
The aid also includes other artillery support, anti-armor weaponry and tens of millions of rounds of small-arms ammunition, defense officials said.
Moscow came under a drone attack on Tuesday, a move which the Kremlin has blamed on Kyiv. A senior Ukrainian official said Kyiv was not “directly involved” in the assault, though it was “happy” to watch.
So far American officials say that no U.S.-made drones or munition have been used in attacks on Moscow. But the fact that the United States plans to send additional ammunition for Ukrainian drones shows how serious the Biden administration is about arming Ukraine in advance of the counteroffensive, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday. The air defense munitions in the shipment also suggest that the United States is seeking to give Ukraine an advantage amid continuing strikes from Moscow.
The Pentagon did not specify which unmanned systems were being bolstered with the drone munitions in the aid package. The United States has given Ukraine both surveillance and attack drones in the past year, but officials have been reluctant to publicly describe exactly which systems have been sent.
The package brings the amount of security assistance to Ukraine from the United States since Russia invaded in February last year to $37.6 billion, the Pentagon said.
“This authorization is the Biden administration’s 39th drawdown of equipment from D.O.D. inventories for Ukraine since August 2021,” the Pentagon statement said, referring to the Defense Department’s supplies. “It includes key capabilities to support Ukraine’s air defenders as they bravely protect Ukraine’s soldiers, civilians, and critical infrastructure amid Russia’s continuing airstrikes killing civilians across Ukraine.”
John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said Wednesday that the administration would keep up the weapons shipments through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in the fall. “
As for when the administration would need to go to Congress for more money for Ukraine, Mr. Kirby said that “we’ve got some time to figure that out.”
Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.
Helene Cooper is a Pentagon correspondent. She was previously an editor, diplomatic correspondent and White House correspondent, and was part of the team awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, for its coverage of the Ebola epidemic. @helenecooper
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