Biden Admin Sends $1.2 Billion to Ukraine, With Total Military Aid Now at $36.9 Billion

The Biden administration is sending Ukraine a military aid package worth up to $1.2 billion “to bolster [Ukraine’s] air defenses and sustain its artillery ammunition needs,” the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

The latest package “underscores the continued U.S. commitment to meeting Ukraine’s most urgent requirements by committing critical capabilities—such as air defense systems and munitions—while also building the capacity of Ukraine’s armed forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term,” Pentagon press secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, said during a news conference.

The equipment will be purchased new from defense contractors under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), an authority that lets the United States procure capabilities from industry or partners. USAI is a fund created in 2015 in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“The USAI gives us the ability to leverage the power and the capabilities of the private sector in order to support Ukraine’s medium and long term security assistance needs,” said Ryder.

The total value of the unprecedented aid to Ukraine from the United States now exceeds $37.6 billion, according to an updated fact sheet (pdf). Of that, more than $36.9 billion has been sent to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

155 mm Artillery Rounds, Air Defense Systems

The Pentagon noted that part of the package commits additional 155 mm artillery rounds—one of the most requested artillery rounds in Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

The United States has shipped more than 1.5 million rounds to Ukraine, but as of late April, Kyiv was still seeking more.

The rounds, which are used in howitzer systems, allow Ukrainian soldiers to hit Russian targets up to 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 kilometers) away, depending on what type of round and firing system is used. Howitzers are large guns that can be towed. The rounds can also be configured to be highly explosive, among other flexibilities.

Also in the new security assistance package are additional air defense systems and munitions; equipment to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems; and ammunition for counter-unmanned aerial systems.

The latest aid comes as Ukraine prepares to launch a spring offensive against Russian forces, with air defense a persistent issue.

Also, in recent U.S. intelligence leaks that made headlines on April 6, one document appeared to show that munitions for Ukraine’s S-300 air-defense system were expected to run out in early May.

Facing economic sanctions and limits on its supply chains over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has routinely turned to Iran’s Shahed drones to bolster its firepower. U.S. aid packages have included systems to shoot down and otherwise defeat the drones.

Ukraine’s air defenses shot down 35 Iranian-made drones over Kyiv in Russia’s latest nighttime assault, officials said Monday. Wreckage from a drone struck a two-story apartment building in Kyiv’s western Svyatoshynsky district, while other debris struck a car parked nearby, setting it on fire, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a Telegram post.

Russian shelling of 127 targets across northern, southern, and eastern parts of Ukraine killed three civilians, the Ukrainian defense ministry said.

In addition to the 1.5 million rounds and air defense systems, the United States will also provide Ukraine with commercial satellite imagery services and “support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities” as part of the latest package.

Congress, White House Insist on Ukraine Aid

The military aid comes as Congress and the White House are discussing how to avert a first-ever U.S. debt default. The national debt of the United States has surpassed $31 trillion, and unless Congress approves a higher debt limit by June 1, the nation could face a default.

Lawmakers from the Republican and Democrat parties—including top Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate—have been insisting on continued support and aid for Ukraine.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who warned of an “economic calamity” for Americans if the debt ceiling is not raised, has also been pushing for continued aid for Ukraine.

In February, Yellen paid a surprise visit to Kyiv and reaffirmed U.S. aid to Ukraine. “America will stand with Ukraine as long as it takes,” she said at the time.

More recently, in April, Yellen called for continued aid, adding that the United States had plans to provide additional aid through September—all as grants—and to support Ukraine’s energy security and early recovery efforts, but gave no details.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times