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8 Sep, 2023 07:32

Pentagon announces another military aid package for Ukraine

Kiev will get HIMARS missiles, electronic warfare equipment, and mine-clearing hardware, Washington says
Pentagon announces another military aid package for Ukraine

The US is set to provide another $600 million worth of military aid to Ukraine for use in its conflict with Russia, the Department of Defense has said.

According to a statement issued by the Pentagon on Thursday, the new package will include equipment for air-defense systems, additional ammunition for HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, 105mm artillery rounds, electronic warfare tools, demolition munitions for obstacle clearing, and mine-clearing hardware.

The aid is being provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the Biden administration to procure weapons from the defense industry instead of taking them from existing US military stocks.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited Kiev on Wednesday, promised Ukraine $1 billion in assistance from Washington, including $665.5 million for military supplies.

“We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs not only to succeed on the counteroffensive, but [also] in the long term,” Blinken told journalists in Kiev.

On the same day, the Pentagon announced that Kiev would be getting another $175 million worth of American equipment, including depleted uranium shells for Abrams M-1 tanks. According to Politico, ten of the 31 US-made main battle tanks are expected to arrive in Ukraine in a matter of weeks.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said this was a “criminal move” by the US. “It’s not just an escalatory step, but a reflection of Washington’s outrageous disregard for the environmental consequences” of using depleted uranium shells on the battlefield.

Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov called the development “very bad news” and referred to an increase in cancer cases on the territory of former Yugoslavia where depleted uranium munitions had been used during the NATO bombing campaign of 1999. Peskov also said the continuation of American military aid for Kiev was a sign of the Biden administration’s intention to keep “waging a war to the last Ukrainian.”

On Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that, during the three months of its counteroffensive, Ukraine had lost some 66,000 troops and 7,600 pieces of heavy weaponry but failed to achieve any significant gains. Kiev has so far claimed the capture of several small villages, but they are located some distance from the main Russian defense lines.

Russia has repeatedly warned that deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by the US and its allies will only prolong the fighting, but won’t prevent Moscow from achieving the goals of its military operation. Russian officials also argue that the provision of arms, intelligence-sharing and the training of Kiev’s troops already means that Western nations have de facto become parties to the conflict.