Biden announces $1 billion worth of new weapons for Ukraine, Kyiv seeks more heavy weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a new $1 billion U.S. arms injection to Ukraine, including anti-ship missile systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition.

In a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Biden said he told the embattled leader about the new weapons.

“The United States is providing another $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for artillery and advanced missile systems,” Biden said in a statement after the 41-minute call.

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The President also announced an additional $225 million in humanitarian aid to help the people of Ukraine, including by providing safe drinking water, essential medical and health care supplies, food, shelter, and cash for families to purchase essential items.

The Pentagon said Ukraine’s latest weapons packages include 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of ammunition to it, two runaway coastal defense systems, artillery rockets, safe radios, thousands of night vision devices and training funding.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had spoken to Foreign Minister Anthony Blinkin to thank him for “critical military assistance” from the United States.

“(I) emphasized that we urgently need more heavy weapons that are delivered on a regular basis,” he said on Twitter.

US President Joe Biden returns to the White House in Washington, US on June 14, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The aid packages, which come as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with allies in Brussels, have been divided into two categories: transfers of excess defense materials from US stockpiles and other weapons funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), a separate group. Program authorized by Congress.

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, on Wednesday accused Western countries of “fighting a proxy war with Russia,” telling reporters: “I would like to say to Western countries that supply weapons to Ukraine – the blood of civilians is stained with blood.”

Ukraine is pressing the United States and other Western countries for rapid delivery of weapons in the face of increasing pressure from Russian forces in the eastern Donbass region.

“We need to concentrate all these weapons in a moment to defeat the Russians, and not just keep coming every two or three weeks,” Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, told reporters at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund.

In May, the Biden administration announced a plan to give Ukraine the M142 high-mobility artillery missile systems after receiving assurances from Kyiv that it would not use them to strike targets inside Russian territory. Biden imposed the condition to try to avoid an escalation of the Ukraine war. Read more

The missile artillery in this assistance package will have the same range as previous U.S. missile shipments and is funded using the Presidential Drawing Authority, or PDA, where the president can authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stockpiles without congressional approval in response to a decision, a source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

For the first time, the United States is sending ground-based Harpoon bombers. In May, Reuters reported that the United States is working on potential solutions that include withdrawing a launcher from a US ship to help provide Ukraine with a Harpoon missile launch capability. Read more

Fighters made by Boeing (ban) It cost about $1.5 million per missile, according to experts and industry executives.

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(Additional reporting by Mike Stone, Patricia Gingerli, Humira Pamuk and Steve Holland in Washington.) Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Idris Ali in Brussels and David Leungren in Ottawa Editing by Jonathan Otis and Nick Ziminsky

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