To bolster Ukraine's successful counteroffensive against invading Russian forces, the US has announced a new $600 million arms package for Ukraine.
Reports quoting the White House said this was the 21st time that the Defense Department was pulling weapons and ammunition off its shelves to fuel Kyiv's battle against Kremlin. Joe Biden used his Presidential Drawdown Authority for the purpose, reported Reuters.
According to the Pentagon, the package includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), night vision goggles, claymore mines, mine clearing equipment, 105mm artillery rounds and 155mm precision-guided artillery rounds.
Interestingly, approval for the package came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the SCO Summit in Samarkhand, Uzbekistan, where Xi reportedly raised "questions and concerns" over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"We are delivering the arms and equipment that Ukraine’s forces are utilizing so effectively as they continue their successful counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion," Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement. "President Biden has been clear we will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes."
Through the package, the US hopes to help Ukraine keep up the momentum of its pushback in the eastern and northern regions of the country. This comes days after the Biden administration allocated $2.9 billion in the form of military financing to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbours. While about $1.4 billion of that will go to Ukraine and the rest will be divided among regional allies like Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Ever since the war began, the US has sent aid worth $15.9 billion to Ukraine.
Interestingly, the US decided to ignore Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's requests for MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). These long-range guided missiles can strike targets up to 190 miles away.
Instead, the Pentagon has supplied thousands of satellite-guided rockets and 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers (HIMARS). Those rockets have been significant in Ukrainian defense, striking over 400 Russian ammunition depots, command posts and radars since the war began.
The rebuffing of Zelensky's request hints at the US decision to not change its Ukraine strategy. According to a report by CNN, the Pentagon believes the types of weapons and intelligence that the West has been providing to Ukraine have been effective and there is "no change in battlefield landscape" to warrant the supply of long-range missile systems and tanks.