The U.S. announced an additional $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine Monday, the largest military aid package to date, bringing the total to $9.1 billion given so far out of an authorized $54 billion since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The latest package follows a $550 million drawdown on Aug. 1 and includes munitions for long-range weapons, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and armored medical treatment vehicles. However, the package does not include any additional long-range weapons systems, like HIMARS, that have made a significant operational impact in the fight, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin H. Kahl said Monday.
“To meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities calibrated to make a difference,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Ukrainian forces celebrated the 16 HIMARS Ukraine has received to this point, billing them as a game changer in an otherwise “grinding” fight in the Donbas region, Reuters reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Donbas situation “hell” and admitted on Aug. 2 that, while Ukraine lacked the manpower and equipment to defeat Russia’s invading army, it was doing “everything possible and everything impossible” to obtain the weapons needed to repel Russian troops, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
“The word ‘HIMARS’ has become almost synonymous with the word ‘justice’ in our country, and the Ukrainian defense forces will do everything to ensure that the aggressors experience increasingly more painful losses every week thanks to these very effective systems,” Zelenskyy said, according to Ukrainska Pravda.
Armored medical transport vehicles will help Ukraine transfer wounded troops to a U.S. medical hospital in Germany after the U.S. approved a plan to treat Ukrainian troops at the facility in June, according to Reuters.
Ukraine will consider peace talks when it has the advanced weapons and ammunition required to repel Russian troops, a Zelenskyy adviser said Friday, including long-range artillery like HIMARS. Ukraine’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said in July that Ukraine needs at least 150 HIMARS or similar systems to prosecute a successful counteroffensive, Fox News reported.
“These are not the types of systems we assess you need in the hundreds,” Kahl said.
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U.S. officials have raised concerns over the U.S. and Ukraine’s ability to track aid; a government watchdog report in July found that the Pentagon’s substandard recording practices hindered U.S. oversight of distribution, potentially allowing weapons and sensitive technology to end up in the wrong hands.
The Biden administration has hesitated to donate longer-range systems Ukraine has asked for out of fears Russia could assign responsibility for missile attacks on Russian territory to the U.S., sparking a global war, Fox News reported.
Munitions included in the new package can be withdrawn from existing U.S. supplies, according to the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) which allows the President to authorize emergency weapons transfers in emergency situations, Reuters reported.