US announces $1.2bn in additional military aid for Ukraine

New assistance package for Ukraine includes air defence systems and conventional and counter-drone ammunition.

A Ukrainian soldier fires an RPG toward Russian positions at the frontline near Kremenna in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
A Ukrainian soldier fires a rocket-propelled grenade towards Russian positions at the front line near Kremenna in the Luhansk region of Ukraine on May 9, 2023 [LIBKOS/AP]

The United States has announced a new $1.2bn military aid package for Ukraine that will include air defence systems, conventional artillery and counter-drone ammunition, satellite imagery services and funding for military training.

In the package announced on Tuesday, Ukraine will also receive technology to allow the integration of Western air defence launchers, missiles and radar with Ukraine’s native air defence systems.

“The Russians have launched waves of missiles into Ukraine, whose military has been adept at knocking them down,” the US Department of Defense said in a statement. “The package also contains ammunition to shoot down unmanned aerial systems.”

Ukrainian cities have come under renewed aerial attack in the past week with scores of Russian missiles and drones targeting Kyiv and other key cities.

Ukraine is readying for a highly anticipated spring offensive against invading Russian troops, but the latest US assistance will not immediately arrive on the battlefield because it must still be procured from the defence industry or US partners.

Procuring from industry is designed to avoid the US military depleting its own stocks but also means the assistance will take longer to reach Kyiv than equipment drawn directly from existing US military inventories.

So far in the fiscal year 2023, which runs from October 1 last year to September 30, the US Department of Defense has provided $5bn in security assistance to Kyiv under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in four separate tranches. In fiscal 2022, the US spent $6.3bn worth of these funds.

The US has also rushed more than $35bn of weapons to Ukraine using presidential drawdown authority, which authorizes the president to transfer equipment and services from US stocks without congressional approval during an emergency.

The latest military aid was announced as Congress and the White House debate ways to avoid a default on the nation’s debt with many Republicans demanding sharp cuts in domestic spending in exchange for lifting the debt limit. The US government is projected to reach that limit by the beginning of June.

Members of both the Democratic and Republican parties insist they support continued aid for Ukraine, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies