The US is sending another $400 million in military aid to Ukraine


WASHINGTON – The Biden administration said Friday it will send an additional $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine, including four more advanced missile systems. The weapons, a senior defense official said, will aid Ukraine’s efforts to penetrate deeper behind Russian fronts in the eastern Donbass region.

The aid comes as Moscow claimed full control of Ukraine’s Luhansk province in the Donbass this week, but Ukrainian officials say their forces still control a small part of the province and fierce fighting continues in several villages.

The defense official said the eight previously deployed High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, are still being used in combat by Ukrainian forces. This will give them four more to help hit Russian command and control nodes, logistics capabilities, and other systems further down the front lines. A senior military official said at least 100 Ukrainian soldiers have been trained on the HIMARs. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that have not yet been released.

Russia has fired dozens of missiles over Ukraine in recent days, pinning down Ukrainian forces with long-range non-stop fire, sometimes for hours. The US military official said that 10 to 15 tactical groups of the Russian battalion are in the Donbass region, but Russia has suffered significant casualties in recent fighting and may need to pause to reorganize and reset equipment. There are between 800 and 1,000 soldiers in a tactical battalion group.

Ukraine’s leaders have publicly called on Western allies to quickly send more ammunition and advanced systems that will help them fill the gap in equipment and manpower. The precision weapons can help Ukraine hit Russian weapons that are more distant and used to bomb Ukrainian locations.

The latest aid, approved by President Joe Biden Friday afternoon, is the 15th package of military arms and equipment transferred to Ukraine from Defense Department holdings since last August. In addition to the HIMARS, the US will also send 1,000 rounds of 155mm artillery, which will have increased accuracy and will help Ukraine hit specific targets. The pack will also include three tactical vehicles, counter-battery radar systems, spare parts and other equipment.

Search and rescue workers and local residents retrieve a body from under the rubble of a building after the Russian airstrike in Lysychansk, Luhansk region, Ukraine, June 16, 2022.

Pentagon acting press secretary Todd Breasseale said the aid will meet critical needs for Ukraine’s fight.

Looking ahead to the coming months, the defense official said a key goal is to build up Ukraine’s logistics and repair capabilities so troops can maintain their weapon systems and continue the fight into the future.

In all, the US has sent around $7.3 billion in aid to Ukraine since the war began in late February.

Luhansk is one of two provinces that make up the Donbass, a mines and factories region where pro-Moscow separatists fought the Ukrainian army for eight years and proclaimed independent republics that Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized before he troops sent to Ukraine.

Putin warned Thursday that Kyiv should accept Moscow’s terms or brace for the worst, saying Russia has not yet “seriously started anything”.

US and other Western officials have said Russia has been making slow, incremental progress in the Donbass, but has not made progress as quickly as Moscow initially intended. Biden has said the US is giving Ukrainians the help they need to continue to resist Russian aggression.

“I don’t know how it will end, but it will not end with a Russian defeat of Ukraine in Ukraine,” Biden said last week.

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