A senior US defense official says the package will include mine-resistant vehicles, surveillance drones and other weapons.
The United States has announced a new $775 million military aid package for Ukraine as the Biden administration pledged to continue helping the country stave off the ongoing invasion of Russia “for as long as it takes”.
In a statement on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the aid will include “additional weapons, ammunition and equipment” from Defense Department inventories, without going into further detail.
“President [Joe] Biden has been clear that we will continue to support the people of Ukraine in defending their country against Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” Blinken said, adding that the aid will add the government’s total security assistance to Ukraine to about $ 10.6 billion.
“These capabilities have been carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table,” he said.
Although the statement did not say which weapons would be sent to Kiev, a senior US defense official told reporters earlier on Friday that Washington would include mine-resistant vehicles in the aid package for the first time.
On condition of anonymity, the official said the aid would include 15 Scan Eagle surveillance drones, 40 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAP, and about 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles.
It will also carry additional ammunition and 16 105mm howitzer systems, the official said.
“We want to ensure that Ukraine has a steady flow of ammunition to meet its needs, and that is what we are doing with this package,” the defense official said.
While this is the first time the US has supplied Scan Eagle drones, another country has supplied them to Ukraine in the past, the official added, without elaborating.
As the six-month mark approaches, the conflict in Ukraine has degenerated into a war of attrition, mainly fought in the east and south of the country.
The new list of US weapons appears to be “for when the Ukrainians are ready to make a big advance,” defense strategy expert Phillips O’Brien wrote on Twitter.
Explosions were reported Friday night near military bases deep in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine and in Russia itself.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in televised comments that statements by Ukrainian officials about strike facilities in Russian-occupied Crimea “mark an escalation in the conflict that is openly encouraged by the United States and its NATO allies”.
Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington against arming Ukraine, saying such actions “threw oil on the flames”.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other leaders have called on their allies to send heavy weapons to help the country’s troops push back against the Russian military offensive.
The US aid package announced on Friday marks the 19th time the Pentagon has supplied Defense Department equipment to Ukraine since August 2021.
Previous packs have included tactical drones and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, also known as HIMARS.