Amount of US weaponry delivered to Ukraine revealed
Some 80% of the M777 howitzers and half of the 155mm ammunition for them – promised to Ukraine by US President Joe Biden last month – have already been delivered, the Department of Defense said on Monday.
The US military also said it has supplied nearly all the counter-battery and anti-aircraft radars and 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles pledged, but no helicopters just yet.
The figures came from a background briefing at the Pentagon on Monday, where an unnamed American defense official gave reporters the official account of Washington’s military aid to Kiev.
Biden initially promised Ukraine 18 howitzers, but later added another 72, along with 140,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition, ten counter-artillery radars, two air surveillance radars, 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 100 humvees and 11 Mi-17 helicopters.
According to the Pentagon, half of the 155mm ammunition is already in Ukrainian hands, and more is headed over every day. A total of 72 howitzers have been delivered, along with “nearly all” the radars. A total of 14 cargo flights departed the US over the past 24 hours, and 11 more are expected over the next day, along with 23 flights from five other countries.
These supply flights reportedly land in Poland, from where the weapons are taken across the Ukrainian border by road and rail.
The Pentagon also revealed that the training of Ukrainian troops on the new howitzers is taking place in Germany. Florida National Guard troops based there, which had previously deployed to Ukraine for training, have taken over the howitzer drills from original Canadian instructors. More than 170 Ukrainian troops have already been trained in handling the M777s, and another 50 are completing their training, the official said.
A group of 20 Ukrainians have started a week-long training course in using the Phoenix Ghost tactical drones, the official added. However, the Mi-17 helicopters have yet to be delivered to Kiev.
Another detail disclosed by the Pentagon is that Ukraine has so far received 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles. The US military has been raiding its own stockpiles for both the Javelins and the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as their manufacturer, Raytheon, complained last week the components to make more were in short supply.
Since February 24, the US has pledged nearly $15 billion in military aid to Kiev, more than double Ukraine’s entire military budget for 2021. Last week, Congress approved a bill that would enable the White House to send nearly unlimited quantities and types of weapons and ammunition using a WWII-era “lend-lease” mechanism.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Ukrainian armed forces have lost 1,246 artillery weapons, not counting multiple rocket launcher systems, since the start of the hostilities. Russia has also repeatedly targeted warehouses storing equipment sent from the West.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.