US Prepares New $1 Billion Weapons Package for Ukraine

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Last week, the Pentagon announced a separate security assistance package for Ukraine.

Washington:

The Biden administration’s next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to reach $1 billion, one of the largest to date, and will include ammunition for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles, three sources briefed on Friday told Reuters.

The package is expected to be announced as early as Monday and would contribute to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given to Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24.

The officials said, on condition of anonymity, that President Joe Biden had not yet signed the next weapons package. They warned that weapon packs can change in value and content before being signed.

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However, if signed in its current form, it would be valued at $1 billion and contain ammunition for HIMARS, ammunition for the NASAMS surface-to-air missile system, and as many as 50 M113 armored medical transports.

The new package follows a recent Pentagon decision to allow Ukrainians to receive medical treatment at a US military hospital in Germany near Ramstein Air Force Base.

Last Monday, the Pentagon announced a separate security assistance package for Ukraine worth up to $550 million, including additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

The White House declined to comment on the package.

The new package would be funded under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), in which the president can authorize the transfer of items and services from US stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

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HIMARS is playing a key role in the artillery duel between Ukraine and Russia, which is described as “grinding” with very little movement of the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Since Russian forces flooded the border in February in what Putin called a “special military operation,” the conflict has escalated into a war of attrition mainly in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Moscow is trying to gain control of the largely Russian-speaking Donbas, comprising the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea to the south in 2014.

So far, the United States has sent 16 HIMARS to Ukraine and pledged to send two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) on July 1.

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It was unclear whether the NASAMS launchers, made jointly by Raytheon Technologies Corp and Norway’s Kongsberg, are already in Ukraine if the ammunition was intended for launchers donated by another country, or whether they were pre-placed.

The United States has previously sent 200 M113 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.

The armored personnel carriers equipped with medical equipment could give the battle with Russia greater survivability for Ukrainian troops, who could then be sent to Germany for further medical treatment.

The Kiev government said in June 100 to 200 Ukrainian troops were being killed every day.

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