US pledges $1 billion more rockets, other arms for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday it is sending the largest but most direct shipment of weapons to Ukraine as the country prepares for a potentially decisive counterattack against Russia in the south, sending Ukraine $1 billion in rockets, ammunition and other materials. Department of Defense stock.

New U.S. weapons shipments will further strengthen Ukraine as it mounts a counteroffensive, which analysts say for the first time could shape the course of the rest of the war with Kiev.Now at the half year mark.

Kiev aims to push Russian forces back from Kherson and other southern regions near the Dnipro River. In recent times Russia has been moving troops and equipment towards the southern port cities To stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“At every stage of this conflict, our focus has been on getting the Ukrainian people what they want as the situation evolves on the battlefield,” Colin Kahl, the deputy secretary of defense for policy, said Monday in announcing the new weapons shipment.

The new US aid includes additional rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS. Also thousands of artillery pieces, mortar systems, javelins and other ammunition and equipment. Military commanders and other U.S. officials say HIMARS and artillery systems have been critical in Ukraine’s fight to prevent Russia from gaining more ground.

The US has already provided Ukraine with 16 HIMARS, Kahl said, adding that the new package does not include additional ones.

“These are not the systems that we evaluate that we need for hundreds of types of effects,” Kahl said. “These are precision-guided systems for specific types of targets, and the Ukrainians are using them.”

He declined to say how many precision-guided missile systems were included for HIMARS in Monday’s announcement, but said the US had provided “several hundred” of them in recent weeks.

The latest announcement brings total U.S. security aid to Ukraine by the Biden administration to more than $9 billion.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the United States for the package and said “we will use 100% of it to protect freedom, our common freedom.”

So far, the largest single security assistance package was announced on June 15 for $1 billion. But that aid includes $350 million under the Presidential Drawdown Authority and another $650 million under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides funding for training, equipment and other security. Requirements that can be purchased from other countries or companies.

Monday’s package allows the US to deliver weapons systems and other equipment more quickly as it takes off Defense Department shelves.

Apart from rockets for HIMARS, it includes 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery, 20 mortar systems and 20,000 rounds, 1,000 shoulder-mounted javelin rockets and other weapons, explosives and medical equipment.

For the last four months of the war, Russia has focused on capturing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, where pro-Moscow separatists have controlled some territory as a self-proclaimed republic for eight years. Russian forces have made gradual advances in the region while launching missile and rocket attacks to prevent the movement of Ukrainian soldiers elsewhere.

Kahl estimates that the Russian army suffered up to 80,000 dead and wounded in the fighting, although he does not break down the figure by estimating the number of troops killed.

He said Russian forces had managed to gain “increasing” ground in eastern Ukraine, though not in recent weeks. “But how well the Ukrainian military has done and all the help the Ukrainian military has received, the Russian military has paid an extraordinary price. And I think the situation in the east has essentially stabilized now and the focus is really shifting south.”

The new funding comes from $40 billion in economic and security assistance for Ukraine approved by Congress in May.

This is the 18th time the Pentagon has delivered equipment from the Department of Defense stockpile to Ukraine since August 2021.

The US and allies are still evaluating whether to supply aircraft to Ukraine, Kahl said. “It’s not inconceivable that Western planes landing on the road could be part of the mix,” he said.

Early in the war, Zelensky made almost daily appeals for warplanes, calling them essential to defend Ukraine’s skies. The US and some other NATO countries feared that they would become more directly involved in Ukraine’s war against Russia and did not provide Western aircraft.

Separately on Monday, the Treasury Department said it was sending $3 billion more in direct financial aid to Ukraine. This is part of the $7.5 billion in financial assistance previously approved, with $1.5 billion yet to be disbursed.

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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Fatima Hussain in Washington contributed to this report.

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