US to send $2B to Ukraine, 18 other countries at risk of Russia
The United States intends to send another $2 billion in military support to Ukraine and 18 nearby countries at risk of Russian attack, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday during a visit to Kyiv.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also on Thursday announced another package of weapons to Ukraine worth up to $675 million, a pledge made as he met with allies working to keep Ukraine equipped “over the long haul” amid the Russian invasion.
“Yesterday, President Biden approved the latest tranche of U.S. assistance to Ukraine. It’s valued at up to $675 million,” Austin told reporters following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
A list later released by the Pentagon detailed the contents of the package, which includes four 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 accompanying artillery rounds, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), additional High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARM), 100 Humvees, 50 armored ambulances, anti-tank systems, small arms and more.
Blinken notified Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of the latest U.S. lethal aid when the two met Thursday in Ukraine’s capital. It was Blinken’s second visit to Ukraine since Russia first attacked the country on Feb. 24.
In a statement, Blinken said he informed Zelensky of the $675 million presidential drawdown, noting that President Biden “has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes. I reiterated this message to President Zelenskyy and his team today in Kyiv, which remains — and will remain — the capital of a sovereign, independent Ukraine.”
The new aid would push the U.S. security assistance commitment to Ukraine past the $15 billion mark since August 2021, and more than $14.5 billion since the Russia invasion began.
Both the Pentagon and State Department also announced that the Biden administration has informed Congress of its “intent to make a further $2.2 billion available in long-term investments under Foreign Military Financing to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors; including many of our NATO Allies, as well as other regional security partners potentially at risk of future Russian aggression.”
Roughly half of that money will go toward Ukrainian security and the other half split between Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
As Blinken visited Kyiv, Austin met with representatives from around 50 countries at the fifth gathering of the Ukraine Contact Group, a group that first met in April to coordinate the flow of military assistance to Ukraine. Those in attendance included NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
“Ukrainian forces have begun their counteroffensive in the south of their country. And they are integrating the capabilities that we all have provided to help themselves to fight and reclaim their sovereign territory,” Austin said earlier on Thursday as he sat down with the group.
“Today, this Contact Group needs to position itself to sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul. And that means a continued and determined flow of capability now,” he continued. “And it means renewing and deepening our resolve to stand by Ukraine — with support and strength that doesn’t hinge on any one particular battle.”
Austin added that NATO and the United States are working to host a special session in the next few weeks that will bring together senior national armaments directors from the 50 countries in the contact group.
“They will discuss how our defense industrial bases can best equip Ukraine’s future forces with the capabilities that they need,” he said.
Ukrainian forces are working to push Russian troops from the northeast part of the country around Kharkiv and in the south near Kherson, with Zelensky on Wednesday highlighting “good news” about recapturing unnamed settlements from the Kharkiv region.
But Russia is showing no sign of backing down, with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday defiantly claiming his country has “not lost a thing” from the war in Ukraine and the tight sanctions it has triggered.
U.S. officials, meanwhile, estimated in August that Russia has suffered around 70,000 to 80,000 casualties in under six months.
This story was updated at 12:57 p.m.