Defense Secretary Announces New US Military Aid Package to Ukraine

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on July 2 said that the United States is soon going to announce more than $2.3 billion in new security assistance for Ukraine. He also said the United States will take steps to bring Ukraine closer to NATO membership.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Tuesday that the United States will provide $2.3 billion more in military assistance to Ukraine, which includes missile systems, anti-tank weapons, and more munitions.

“Make no mistake, Ukraine is not alone, and the United States will never waver in our support,” Mr. Austin said during a news conference at the Pentagon as he met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

“Alongside some 50 allies and partners, we’ll continue to provide critical capabilities that Ukraine needs to push back Russian aggression today and to deter Russian aggression tomorrow,” he added.

“This package … will provide more air defense interceptors, anti-tank weapons, and other critical munitions” taken from U.S. military stocks, Mr. Austin confirmed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media Sunday that Russia had dropped more than 800 powerful glide bombs in Ukraine in the last week. He urged national leaders to relax restrictions on the use of Western weapons to strike military targets inside Russia. In particular, he said, Ukraine needs the “necessary means to destroy the carriers of these bombs, including Russian combat aircraft, wherever they are.”

Mr. Austin did not refer to the aforementioned restrictions in his Tuesday comments, but he told Mr. Umerov that they would discuss “more ways to meet Ukraine’s immediate security needs and to build a future force to ward off more Russian aggression.”

According to a Council on Foreign Relations think tank analysis as well as the Committee for a Responsible Budget, some $175 billion has been sent to Ukraine since February 2022, when the Russia–Ukraine war began. A large portion of that—$61.3 billion—was sent to the Eastern European country in an April bill that passed both houses of Congress.

Also Tuesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Mr. Zelenskyy during a public event in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and asked him for a “quick cease-fire.”

“I asked the president to consider whether … a quick cease-fire could speed up the peace talks,” the Hungarian leader said at a press conference, according to local media reports.

In response, Mr. Zelenskyy said that he hopes for a “just peace,” adding that “we appreciate that your visit takes place right after the start of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union. This clearly indicates our common European priorities, of how important it is to bring a just peace to Ukraine.”

But he stressed that he hopes that the European Union, of which Hungary is a member, will back his country.

“It is also very important for all of us in Europe that Europe’s support for Ukraine remains sufficient, including our defense against” Russia, the Ukrainian leader added.

On Sunday, Mr. Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram, “Our cities and communities suffer daily from such Russian strikes,” while saying that there are ways to overcome this that include “destroying Russian missile launchers, striking with real long-range capability and increasing the number of modern air defense systems.”

He also posted images that showed a large smoldering crater near a destroyed building, as well as pictures of bodies.

As of Tuesday morning, Russia has not issued a public comment in response to Mr. Austin’s announcement. Previous U.S. aid packages to Ukraine have been met by scorn from top Russian officials, who have suggested that the aid would lead to more deaths in the conflict.

After the April package was passed in Congress, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at the time that “money allocated and the weapons that will be supplied will not change this dynamic,” adding, “More Ukrainians will die, Ukraine will suffer greater losses.”

The Pentagon announcement was made about a day after Ukraine’s security service announced that it had stopped what it described as an attempted coup that would have “played into Russia’s hands.”

“Under the pretext of holding a so-called ‘veche’ [a people’s assembly], the perpetrators planned to announce a ‘removal from power’ of the current military and political leadership of Ukraine,” the statement said. “Then they hoped to seize the building of the Parliament of Ukraine and block its work.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times