The new aid is aimed at replenishing ammunition for advanced weapons systems used in the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The United States will give Ukraine an additional arms package worth $725 million
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday that the aid comes “following Russia’s brutal rocket attacks on civilians across Ukraine” and “the mounting evidence of atrocities by Russian forces.”
While Ukrainian “defenders are pushing back Russia’s forces,” the US stands united with Ukraine, Blinken later said in a tweet.
Washington’s latest military package includes more ammunition for HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) and brings total U.S. military aid to Ukraine to $18.3 billion since Joe Biden began, the Defense Department said in a separate statement.
The US has sent 20 HIMARS to Ukraine and promised 18 more to be delivered in the coming years. HIMARS have proven to be a crucial weapon, enhancing Ukraine’s ability to attack ammunition depots, bridges and other key targets that undermine Russia’s ability to resupply troops.
I ordered another withdrawal of arms and equipment worth $725 million @DeptofDefense Stockpiles to Ukraine, our 23rd withdrawal since August 2021. As Ukraine’s defenders push back Russian forces, the United States stands #UnitedWithUkraine.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 15, 2022
Officials said the new US package is mainly aimed at replenishing thousands of rounds of ammunition for the weapon systems Ukraine has successfully used in its counteroffensive against Russia as the war stretches into its eighth month.
Ukraine’s immediate need remains for additional air defense, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The Russians fired hundreds of rockets at the main Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian forces had some success in launching the missiles, but they need more air defense capabilities,” the statement said.
A senior defense official told reporters at the Pentagon that Russia had fired more than 80 missiles at Ukrainian targets in the past 24 hours and that Ukraine’s air defenses were able to intercept about half of them.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the US assessment of the war, said the wiretapping uses a lot of ammunition as the Ukrainians likely fired more than one bullet at each incoming missile.
The announcement of US aid caps a number of pledges from allies this week.
The UK said last week it would supply missiles for the advanced NASAM (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) that the Pentagon plans to send to Ukraine. Britain is also sending hundreds of drones and 18 howitzer artillery pieces.
Germany has deployed the first of four promised IRIS-T air defense systems; France pledged more artillery, anti-aircraft systems and missiles; The Netherlands said they would send missiles and Canada plans to send winter gear, drone cameras and satellite communications.
The commitments come as Russia intensified its attacks, hitting the Kyiv region with kamikaze drones and firing rockets at civilian targets elsewhere, including a hospital, a kindergarten and other buildings in the town of Nikopol, which lies across from the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant Power plant.
The attacks have been described as Russian revenge for the bombing of the strategic Kerch Bridge, which connects Russia to annexed Crimea. Kremlin war hawks have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to escalate the bombing even further in a bid to punish Ukraine for the recent truck bombing of the bridge.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack.
Russia’s surge in missile attacks also represents an urgent effort by Moscow to regain its footing, as Ukraine’s fierce counteroffensive has recaptured cities and areas that Russia overran in the earlier days of the war.