Pentagon mulling ways to get more lethal aid to Ukraine

The U.S. military will provide additional lethal aid for Ukraine but is working through the logistics of delivery given the contested airspace over Ukraine, the Pentagon’s top spokesman said Friday.

“We’re continuing to look for ways to support Ukraine to defend themselves,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “And we’re very actively engaged in those efforts to help them better defend themselves through both lethal and nonlethal assistance.” 

Kirby later added that the situation in Ukraine has drastically changed since Thursday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered into Ukraine some of the more than 150,000 troops amassed near the border.

“We’re going to have to look for other ways to do this,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

“The airspace over Ukraine is contested, the Russians don’t have superiority of it, it’s contested,” Kirby said. “We are going to provide additional security assistance for Ukraine, we will. How that is going to be done is still being worked out.”

He added that he won’t detail what the U.S. would send into Ukraine given the security situation.

“I have not been detailing for any of you each and every package, each and every shipment, because I think you can understand, and it’s particularly relevant now, that Ukraine is involved in a no-kidding invasion of their country,” Kirby said. “We wouldn’t want to put it out there in the public space everything that they’re getting from the United States.” 

The U.S. government has provided about $650 million in security assistance to Ukraine in the past year, and the Biden administration is reportedly expected to ask Congress for billions more.

In addition, the Pentagon on Thursday announced it would send another 7,000 troops into Europe to bolster NATO defenses should Russia’s attack spread beyond Ukraine’s borders. The troops, which will join another 7,000 troops deployed or repositioned to Europe earlier this month, will not fight within Ukraine because it is not a member of NATO, President Biden has stressed.

The U.S. military has also placed upward of 12,000 American troops on alert following Friday’s announcement that the NATO Response Force has been activated for the first time, which Kirby called a “historic moment.” 

“It was [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s] desire to get them moving, get them ready, and get them moving and as pre-positioned as possible” for when NATO nations “finally hash out the requirements with the alliance and what that looks like,” Kirby said. 

Tags Joe Biden John Kirby Lloyd Austin Russian invasion of Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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