The Biden administration announced a new $600m arms package to help Russia battle Ukraine’s military, as the US moves more weapons to fuel a successful counter-offensive of Kyiv in the country’s east.
The package will include the same type of ammunition and equipment that has helped Ukrainian forces repel Russian forces in parts of the east and south.
“With commendable grit and determination, the people of Ukraine are defending their homeland and fighting for their future,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The capabilities we are providing have been carefully calibrated to make the most of the difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s hand at the negotiating table when the time is right,” he said.
The decision to move swiftly on the new aid – on the heels of the nearly $2.9bn infusion of aid and financing aid announced last week and the more than $3bn announced in late August – underscores the US intention to ensure that Ukraine can sustain its surprise counterattack which was launched earlier this month.
In the space of a few days, Ukrainian troops have recaptured almost all of Kharkiv territory, pushing the Russian army there significantly.
Moscow’s recent defeat in north-eastern Ukraine was its biggest military defeat since the withdrawal of Russian troops from areas near Kyiv more than five months ago.
Joe Biden authorized the latest aid by using his Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of additional weapons from US stocks. The White House said it was the 21st time the US Department of Defense has stopped weapons and other equipment to deliver to Ukraine.
Since the start of the war, Washington has sent nearly $15.1bn in security aid to the Kyiv government.
It included $2.2 billion in long-term military funding for Ukraine and its 18 neighbors announced during Blinken’s visit to Ukraine last week, and a $675 million arms package announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Europe the same day.
Sources told Reuters the latest aid package was expected to fund military training, as well as include more High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) ammunition for howitzers.
US leaders have also made it clear that precision weapons and rocket systems provided by the US and allies, such as HIMARS, are critical to the dramatic change in pace.