Ukraine: US sends another 275 million USD in military aid
U.S. officials said on Thursday the Pentagon is sending Ukraine a new $275 million package of weapons and other aid to bolster efforts to drive Russian forces out of key areas. in the South as winter closes.
Officials said there are no major new weapons in the US package, which is expected to be announced on Friday. Instead, American aid was largely directed at stockpiling thousands of rounds for weapons systems already there, including the High Mobility Artillery Missile System, known as HIMARS, which Ukraine successfully used in the counter-offensive against Russia.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of a package that have not been made public.
The new aid comes as federal officials publicize the US government’s efforts to ensure that weapons being shipped to Ukraine do not fall into the hands of the Russian military, its proxies or extremist groups. other. The plan, released by the State Department on Thursday, notes that calculating weapons is particularly difficult in an active war and when there is no large American presence on the ground.
American officials have faced persistent questions from some members of Congress about the administration’s counting of billions of dollars in weapons that have been sent to Ukraine over the past year. But the administration has been reluctant to detail its work on that front due to concerns about the conflict situation and concerns that it could introduce smugglers into potential evasion techniques.
“As in any conflict, we remain alert to the possibility that criminal and non-state actors may attempt to illegally procure weapons from sources in Ukraine, including members of the Soviet Union. of the Russian military, during or after the conflict,” the State Department said in a statement. The ministries of State, Defense and Commerce are all involved in the accounting process.
The three-part plan includes short-, medium- and long-term initiatives to strengthen U.S. and Ukrainian surveillance of delivered supplies, particularly missile systems and equipment. More advanced air defense, as well as improving Ukraine’s aviation and border security to combat it said weapons abuse and preventing the arms trade could occur.
So far, Ukraine’s growing demand for weapons on the battlefield appears to be hindering the popularity of the black market for small arms, portable air defense systems and weapons, the State Department said. anti-tank like Javelins. It said the main problem was the seizure of weapons by Russian forces when they landed, and warned that Moscow could use them to develop countermeasures or conduct fake flag operations.
The plan calls for increased border security, more training to improve accountability procedures, and improved efforts to prevent and stop arms trafficking.
Additional advanced weapons are also on their way to Ukraine.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Thursday that he hopes the US will deliver the much-anticipated advanced NASAM air defense systems to Ukraine early next month and train troops on them. The United States has pledged to soon deliver two of its medium-range surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine. He said air defense remains the most important capability that Ukraine needs right now.
The latest aid package announced Friday will be exercised under the president’s withdrawal authority, which allows the Pentagon to take weapons from its inventory and quickly ship them to Ukraine, according to officials.
Including the new $275 million, the United States has now committed nearly $18 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since the war began on February 24.
The aid comes as Ukrainian forces battle to besiege the southern city of Kherson, attacking Russia’s foothold on the western bank of the Dnieper River, which divides the region and the country. Authorities appointed by Moscow are said to be leaving the city, with tens of thousands of residents fleeing to other Russian-administered regions.
Associated Press writer Tara Copp contributed to this report.