Pentagon provides Kiev with surface-to-air missile systems
The US Department of Defense is providing an additional $820 million package of military aid for Ukraine, including two surface-to-air missile defense systems, Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale announced on Friday.
This brings total US security assistance provided to Ukraine to approximately $6.9 billion since the start of Russia’s offensive in late February.
The new deliveries will include ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), up to 150,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition, and four additional counter-artillery radars.
Breasseale stressed that Washington continues to work with its allies “to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements.”
“In particular, DoD recognizes Norway’s cooperation to enable the historic provision by the United States of modern air defense systems that will help Ukraine defend against Russia’s brutal air attacks,” the Pentagon spokesman said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has responded to the latest military supplies, expressing his gratitude to the US and personally to President Joe Biden for the package which, he stressed, “also includes very powerful NASAMS systems.”
“This is an anti-aircraft missile system that will significantly strengthen our air defense. We worked hard for such a supply,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Russia has repeatedly urged the West not to provide Kiev with weapons, saying it will only prolong the conflict and lead to long-term problems. It has warned that Russian forces will consider any foreign weapons on Ukrainian territory as a legitimate target.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “pumping up” Ukraine with Western weapons will only lead Russia “to perform more missions on the ground.”
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.