US shipment of military equipment, munitions arrives in Ukraine

A plane carrying about 80 tons of U.S. military equipment landed in Ukraine’s capital on Tuesday, part of a $200 million lethal aid package from the Biden administration to bolster Kyiv against a potential Russian attack.

The cargo was the third shipment of the total package and included Javelin anti-tank missiles, “other anti-armor systems, grenade launchers, munitions, and non-lethal equipment essential to Ukraine’s front line defenders,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said in a statement.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked Washington for the lethal aid and released a picture of some of the launchers and missiles on Twitter. He said the country expects the arrival of a fourth batch of military equipment “soon.”

The White House in December approved the $200 million package to Kyiv in a bid to avert an incursion from Russia, which has placed at least 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border. Moscow has denied it is planning an attack.

The United States, which has committed more than more than $2.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, including $650 million in 2021, has said a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent.”

In response, the Pentagon on Monday announced it had placed 8,500 U.S. troops on a heightened alert that they may be sent to Eastern Europe to bolster NATO defenses. The State Department also ordered the families of U.S. Embassy staff in Kyiv to leave and said nonessential staff could depart as well.

But President Biden on Tuesday stressed that no American forces would move into Ukraine.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has called the response “premature,” with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying Monday that the situation was “under control” and that an attack was not imminent.