US Announces Another $300 Million Military Aid Package for Ukraine
The United States is sending another $300 million to Ukraine to help the embattled nation meet its “critical security and defense needs” amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced on May 3.
The additional military aid includes ammunition for U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which will grant enhanced capabilities to Ukrainian soldiers, 155 mm Howitzers and artillery rounds; mortar rounds, and tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided (TOW) missiles; as well as Carl Gustaf anti-tank rifles.
It also includes Hydra-70 aircraft rockets, small arms and small arms ammunition, demolition munitions to remove obstacles, and trucks to help transport heavy equipment, among other supplies.
The extra military aid marks the Biden administration’s 37th drawdown of equipment from the Pentagon stocks for Ukraine since August 2021, the DOD said.
Wednesday’s announcement brings the total U.S. military aid to Ukraine to roughly $36 billion and comes after Republican lawmakers last month raised concerns that the trajectory of U.S. aid to Ukraine risks further escalating the war.
In an April 20 letter to the president, a group of 19 GOP lawmakers stressed that since February 2022, the United States has been the principal financier of the Ukrainian defense effort, but noted that there appears to be “no end in sight and no clear strategy to bring this war to a close.”
“A proxy war with Russia in Ukraine is not in the strategic interest of the United States and risks an escalation that could spiral out of control,” they wrote. “With every new aid package and every new weapon provided to Ukraine, the risk of direct conflict with Russia climbs,” they added.
Ukraine Prepares for Spring Offensive
In its announcement on Wednesday, the Pentagon said the latest aid will help Ukraine to “push back against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression” and vowed to continue working with its allies and partners to provide the war-torn nation with “capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer-term security assistance requirements.”
The most recent military aid package also comes as Ukraine’s military wraps up preparation for its spring offensive, aimed at retaking territory captured earlier by Russia, including the Russia-controlled Black Sea region of Crimea.
The country’s defense minister Oleksii Reznikov told reporters last week that those “preparations are coming to an end.”
“In addition to weapons and military equipment, there must be training for our military personnel in how to use them,” Reznikov said, noting that the nation has received state-of-the-art systems from the United States but is still waiting for Abrams tanks.
Biden announced in January that the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine but officials warned that it could take months to train soldiers on how to use the complex systems.
Russia Accuses Ukraine of ‘Terrorist Action’
Reznikov said the Abrams, which cost millions of dollars, likely won’t be used in the upcoming counteroffensive but noted that military training on how to use them was underway.
“We are getting all this equipment for free,” Reznikov told reporters before crediting the United States as being the largest benefactor to Ukraine. “I’ll have to do the math: I think we’ve already received about $80 billion in aid, give or take. The largest contributor is the United States; I’ll have to count: $50 billion [from the United States] and $30 billion from other countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, tensions between Russia and Ukraine reached boiling point on Tuesday after Russia accused it of attempting to assassinate President Vladimir Putin by launching drone attacks targeting the Kremlin residence.
Russia’s presidential press service said in a statement that it considers the alleged drone attack “a pre-planned terrorist action and an attempt on the life of the Russian president” but noted that there were no casualties.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied Moscow’s accusation during a press conference Wednesday in Helsinki.
“We don’t attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our territory. We’re defending our villages and cities,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Washington has also expressed skepticism over Russia’s claim, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling The Washington Post on Wednesday, “I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt.”