US pledges $1 billion more rockets and other weapons for Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday it is shipping its biggest arms shipment to Ukraine as that country prepares for a potentially decisive counteroffensive in the south against Russia, sending $1 billion. of rockets, ammunition and other materials to Ukraine from Ministry of Defense Stockpiles.

The new US arms shipment would further bolster Ukraine as it mounts the counteroffensive, which analysts say could for the first time allow Kyiv to shape the course of the rest of the war, now six months away. .

Kyiv aims to push Russian troops out of Kherson and other southern territories near the Dnipro River. In recent days, Russia has been moving troops and equipment towards southern port cities to stave off the Ukrainian counteroffensive.

“At every stage of this conflict, we have strived to provide the Ukrainians with what they need, based on changing battlefield conditions,” Colin Kahl, Undersecretary of Defense, said on Monday. for politics, announcing the new arms shipment.

The new US aid includes additional rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, as well as thousands of artillery shells, mortar systems, javelins and other ammunition and equipment. Military commanders and other US officials say HIMARS and artillery systems have been crucial in Ukraine’s fight to keep Russia from taking more ground.

While the United States has already provided 16 HIMARS to Ukraine, Kahl said the new package does not include any additional ones.

“These are not systems that we estimate you need hundreds of to get the kind of effects” needed, Kahl said. “These are precision-guided systems for very specific types of targets and the Ukrainians use them as such.”

He declined to say how many precision-guided missile systems for HIMARS were included in Monday’s announcement, but said the United States had provided “several hundred” in recent weeks.

The latest announcement brings total U.S. security assistance committed by the Biden administration to more than $9 billion.

In his overnight video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for the package and said, “We will use 100% of it to protect freedom, our common freedom.”

The largest security assistance package announcement so far was $1 billion on June 15. But that aid included $350 million in presidential levy authorization and an additional $650 million under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides funds for training, equipment and other security measures. needs that can be purchased from other countries or companies.

Monday’s package allows the United States to deliver weapons systems and other equipment more quickly as it removes them from Department of Defense shelves.

In addition to rockets for the HIMARS, it includes 75,000 155mm artillery shells, 20 mortar systems and 20,000 shells for them, 1,000 shoulder-mounted Javelin rockets and other weapons, explosives and medical equipment .

In the last four months of the war, Russia has focused on capturing the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have controlled some territories as self-declared republics for eight years. . Russian forces gradually advanced in the area while launching missile and rocket attacks to limit the movement of Ukrainian fighters elsewhere.

Kahl estimated that Russian forces suffered up to 80,000 dead and wounded in the fighting, although he did not break down the figure with an estimate of forces killed.

He said Russian troops had managed to gain ground “gradually” in eastern Ukraine, but not in recent weeks. “But it came at an extraordinary cost to the Russian army because of the performance of the Ukrainian army and all the help the Ukrainian army received. And I think now the conditions in the east are getting worse. are basically stabilized and the focus is really shifting south.

The new funding is funded by $40 billion in economic and security aid for Ukraine approved by Congress in May.

This is the 18th time the Pentagon has provided Ukraine with equipment from Department of Defense stockpiles since August 2021.

The United States and its allies are still evaluating whether to provide planes to Ukraine, Kahl said. It’s “not inconceivable that Western planes on the road could be part of the mix,” he said.

Zelenskyy at the start of the war made almost daily calls for fighter jets, calling them essential to protect Ukrainian skies. The United States and some other NATO countries feared this would draw them into more direct involvement in Ukraine’s war against Russia, and did not provide Western aircraft.

Separately, on Monday, the Treasury Department said it was sending an additional $3 billion in direct economic aid to Ukraine. This is part of previously approved $7.5 billion in economic aid, of which $1.5 billion has yet to be disbursed.

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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Fatima Hussein in Washington contributed to this report.

Martin E. Berry