New US military aid for Ukraine includes helicopters, howitzers

0
27
The Pentagon is working with major US defence contractors to speed up weapon production. (Lockheed Martin pic)

AFP

WASHINGTON: The US on Wednesday unveiled a new US$800 million military aid package for Ukraine, including heavier equipment such as helicopters, howitzers and armoured personnel carriers.

President Joe Biden spoke to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky about an hour earlier in the day as Russia refocuses its efforts eastward, the new frontline of the nearly seven-week-old war.

“The Ukrainian military has used the weapons we are providing to devastating effect,” Biden said.

“As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the US will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself,” he added.

“This new package of assistance will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.”

Zelensky for his part tweeted that he and Biden had discussed the “additional package of defensive and possible macro-financial aid”.

The new assistance included some of the heavier equipment that Washington had previously refused to provide to Kyiv for fear of escalating the conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby released a list of the items in the latest US$800 million security assistance package for Ukraine.

It includes 18 155mm howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds, 200 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 11 Mi-17 helicopters and 100 armoured multi-purpose vehicles.

The package also includes 10 AN/TPQ-3G counter-artillery radars, two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars, 300 Switchblade drones and 500 Javelin anti-armour missiles.

Unmanned coastal defence vessels, chemical, biological and nuclear protective equipment, 30,000 sets of body armour and helmets, C-4 explosives and M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mines will also be delivered to Ukraine.

“We tailored this list specifically to meet the needs that they have asked for with respect to what’s going on in eastern Ukraine,” Kirby said.

The Pentagon spokesman said the US is working with “allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities, capabilities that aren’t in our stock”.

Pentagon No 2 Kathleen Hicks was due to chair a meeting Wednesday with the heads of the main American defence groups to speed up production of weapons most used by the Ukrainian army.

Before the latest package, the US had supplied or promised Ukraine 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 5,000 Javelins, 7,000 other anti-tank weapons, several hundred Switchblades, 7,000 rifles, 50 million bullets and a range of other equipment.