U.S. gives Ukraine $800 million more in military aid, adds heavy weapons
U.S. President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, expanding the scope of the systems provided ahead of a wider Russian assault expected in eastern Ukraine.
The latest package, which brings the total military aid tally since Russian forces invaded in February to more than $2.5 billion, includes artillery systems, artillery rounds and armored personnel carriers, Biden said in a statement after a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Biden said he had also approved the transfer of additional helicopters, saying equipment provided to Ukraine "has been critical" as it confronts the invasion.
"We cannot rest now. As I assured President Zelenskyy, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom," Biden said.
The new security assistance package, according to the Pentagon, includes 11 Mi-17 helicopters that had been earmarked for Afghanistan before the U.S.-backed government collapsed and 18 155mm Howitzers, along with counter-artillery radars and 200 armored personnel carriers. This was the first time Howitzers have been provided to Ukraine by the United States.
The new package - first reported by Reuters on Tuesday - will be funded using Presidential Drawdown Authority, or PDA, in which the president can authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency.
As news of the latest security assistance package came out, executives from the top U.S. weapons makers met with Pentagon officials to discuss the industrial challenges in the event of a protracted Ukraine conflict.
Zelenskiy has been pleading with U.S. and European leaders to provide heavier arms and equipment as his country faces an invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions.
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