Biden Admin Announces New $275 Million Arms Package for Ukraine

Biden Admin Announces New $275 Million Arms Package for Ukraine
Airmen with the 436th Aerial Port Squadron use a forklift to move 155 mm shells ultimately bound for Ukraine, at Dover Air Force Base, Del on April 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $275 million in new military assistance for Ukraine, drawing funds to replenish stocks of artillery weapons as well as equipment for front-line troops.

The U.S. Department of Defense said this latest round of aid marks the 58th tranche of weapons and equipment the DOD has supplied to Ukraine since August 2021. It is also the fifth tranche of security assistance the Biden administration has ordered since Congress passed a $95 billion foreign security package in April.

That security assistance bill included about $61 billion for new rounds of Ukraine-related aid.

The DOD said this latest round of assistance will include more ammunition for U.S.-donated High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket artillery weapons; 105 mm and 155 mm artillery shells; 60 mm mortar rounds; various types of anti-tank missile launchers; precision aerial munitions; anti-armor mines; demolitions munitions; small arms and ammunition; grenades; helmets and body armor; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protective equipment; and tactical recovery vehicles for towing damaged or stuck vehicles and equipment.

“Assistance from previous packages has already made it to the front lines, and we will move this new assistance as quickly as possible so the Ukrainian military can use it to defend their territory and protect the Ukrainian people,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a Friday press statement announcing the new aid.

Another $400 million U.S.-funded weapons package announced earlier in May included Patriot and National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) missile launchers; Stinger man-portable air-defense systems; artillery shells, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and M113 armored personnel carriers; and Javelin and AT-4 anti-tank launchers.

“As President Biden has made clear, the United States and the international coalition we have assembled will continue to stand with Ukraine in its defense of its freedom,” Mr. Blinken continued.

Mr. Blinken also announced $2 billion in funding on May 15 to assist Ukraine’s domestic military industry.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense thanked the United States for the latest tranche of support on Friday.

“We are grateful to our [U.S.] partners for their unwavering support! Together, we will win,” the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a social media post noting the new weapons shipment.

The Ukrainian military also noted in another social media post that a German-donated infrared imaging system tail/thrust vector-controlled (IRIS-T) air defense system also arrived in Ukraine on Friday.

“Modern air defense systems are crucial in saving the lives of the Ukrainian people from russian terror,” the Ukrainian military said. “We express our deep gratitude to our German partners for their unwavering support!”

New US Weapons Amid Russian Advances

These latest tranches of U.S. weapons and funding come as Russian forces have made advances around Ukraine’s northeast Kharkiv region in recent weeks.

“Of course, everyone’s eyes are focused on the situation in the east and the northeast, in Kharkiv in particular,” Mr. Blinken said during a May 15 press conference in Kyiv as he announced U.S. funding for Ukraine’s military industry. “And so the newest support that I just announced, but particularly the $60 billion supplemental, we know is coming at a critical time.”

The U.S. secretary of state insisted during his May 15 remarks that the Biden administration is rushing weapons and funding to help the Ukrainian forces resist the Russian advances in Kyiv. Mr. Blinken said the administration was looking to supply more air defense systems, such as Patriot missiles defenses, to assist Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region.

In recent days, the Russian Ministry of Defense has also claimed gains in the Sumy region just north of Kharkiv. The Russian military has said its forces have also solidified control over areas of eastern and southeastern Ukraine while repulsing attacks from Ukrainian forces advancing in those areas.

The fighting around the Kharkiv region has fueled some discussion as to whether Ukrainian forces should launch cross-border strikes to hit targets inside Russia. Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-largest city, rests only about 18 miles from the Ukraine-Russia border.

Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said during an interview with ABC News on Sunday that if Russian forces are firing into Ukraine from within Russia’s borders, Ukrainian forces should be able to strike back at those positions.

“I think if the attacks are coming directly from over the line in Russia, that those bases ought to be fair game, whether they are where missiles are being launched from or where they are where troops are being supplied from,” Ms. Nuland said on Sunday.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin distanced himself from Ms. Nuland’s comments during a Monday Pentagon press engagement, stating that Ukrainian forces should focus “on the close fight.”

Mr. Austin did share the caveat that “the aerial dynamic’s a little bit different” and he’d “leave it up to the experts” to determine whether to fire weapons into Russian airspace to deter Russian air forces from dropping glide-bomb munitions that can fly across the border and impact inside Ukrainian territory.

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