Washington: The US announced a fresh $800 million military aid package for Ukraine on Wednesday, which includes heavier weaponry including helicopters, howitzers, and armoured personnel carriers.
As Russia refocuses its efforts eastward, the new frontline of the almost seven-week-old war, President Joe Biden met with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky for roughly an hour earlier in the day.
“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 United States 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.”
Some of the heavier equipment that Washington had previously refused to supply to Kyiv for fear of escalating the confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia was included in the new help.
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, issued a list of the goods included in Ukraine’s new $800 million security aid package.
It has 18 155mm howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds, as well as 200 M113 armoured personnel carriers, 11 Mi-17 helicopters, and 100 armoured multi-purpose vehicles.
Ten AN/TPQ-3G counter-artillery radars, two AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel air surveillance radars, 300 Switchblade drones, and 500 Javelin anti-armor missiles are also included in the package.
Ukraine will also get unmanned coastal defence vessels, chemical, biological, and nuclear protective gear, 30,000 sets of body armour and helmets, C-4 explosives, and M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mines.
“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 United States is working with “allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with additional capabilities, capabilities that aren’t in our stock.”
Kathleen Hicks, the second-in-command at the Pentagon, was scheduled to lead a conference with the chiefs of the major American military organisations on Wednesday to discuss how to speed up the development of weaponry used by the Ukrainian army.
Prior to the newest shipment, the US had sent or promised Ukraine 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems, 5,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 7,000 additional anti-tank weaponry, several hundred Switchblades, 7,000 rifles, 50 million rounds, and a variety of other weaponries.