Pentagon announces additional $1 billion military aid to Ukraine


The Pentagon said on Monday it would send Ukraine an additional $1 billion in military assistance, including tens of thousands of additional munitions and explosives – the largest such package since Russia launched its invasion in February.

The announcement comes as Ukrainian forces begin a counter-offensive aimed at retaking the southern city of Kherson. The operation is seen in Kyiv and Washington as a vital attempt to prevent the Kremlin from fulfilling its vow to absorb the occupied territories via referendums. Senior US officials have denounced the plan to annex Moscow as a “sham”.

The New security assistance package includes ammunition for the high mobility artillery rocket systems known as HIMARS and 75,000 howitzer shells, as well as mortar systems, surface-to-air missiles, Javelin anti-armour missiles, claymore mines and demolition explosives. it grows total US military support for Ukraine tops $9 billion since the start of the war, officials said.

“These are all essential capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east and also to deal with evolving developments in the south and elsewhere,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Defense. Politician Colin Kahl. He described the package as including the types of weapons “that the Ukrainian people use so effectively to defend their country.”

Kahl said the Russian military has faced considerable setbacks as a result of US efforts to arm and equip Ukraine, indicating that his forces have suffered around 70,000 to 80,000 casualties over the past six months. The figure includes personnel killed and injured, he said.

Russia’s vow to annex occupied Ukraine sparks divisions and cries for help

But the counter-offensive in Kherson is likely to be a challenge for Ukrainian forces.

Kyiv’s government has signaled for weeks that it intends to move on the city, which before the invasion was home to around 300,000 people. And if the efforts of the Ukrainians have already helped to recover some neighboring villagesRussian units took notice, said Dmitry Gorenburg, a senior researcher at the CNA think tank and Russian military expert.

It remains to be seen, he added, whether Washington’s latest arms transfer will be enough to allow the Ukrainians to achieve their immediate objectives.

“The Russians have redeployed many defenses…in this area,” Gorenburg said. “Kherson is a big city. And the same problems attacking a major city that the Russians faced at the start of their attack, the Ukrainians would face if the Russians chose to defend it.

While the influx of ammunition and anti-tank systems into Monday’s aid package is “good for stopping offensives,” Gorenburg said, “it won’t necessarily be as helpful if you have an entrenched infantry group.” .

In Ukraine, the sense of urgency is terrible, officials say. President Volodymyr Zelensky told members of Congress late last month that his army had just weeks to turn the tide of the war – a timeline leads in part by Russia’s threat to annex parts of occupied Ukraine as early as next month and the realization that the operation would grow exponentially more complicated if it drags on in winter.

Ukrainian leaders pleaded with the West for more HIMARS, which, along with other sophisticated weapons systems, have allowed them to destroy Russian command posts, ammunition depots, air defense sites, radar and communication nodes and long-range artillery positions. To date, they have received 16 systems produced in the United States, three British-made equivalents and a promise from Germany that three more will be delivered, according to Kahl.

Zelensky’s top advisers said they needed dozens more if Ukraine were to repel the Russian advance. When asked on Monday if the absence of additional HIMARS was an indication that the United States was running out of system stock, Kahl declined to answer directly.

The weapons, he said, were “very good at hitting things” while making it “more difficult for Russia to move forces around the battlefield”. The The Pentagon, Kahl added, is committed to “delivering weapons from United States stockpiles as they become available.”

While waiting for weapons, the Ukrainians hold the line with Soviet artillery

While HIMARS’ long-range precision capabilities weren’t particularly suited to the close quarters combat of a slow-moving counteroffensive, they were useful in maintaining Russian logistics – the weak underbelly that crippled its efforts to sack Kyiv early on. of war – on the back foot, experts say. By targeting Russian ammunition depots in occupied parts of Ukraine, HIMARS strikes have made it more difficult for Russia to resupply its own front lines, causing “hazard in supply lines” that could provide Ukraine openings to make further gains, Gorenburg said.

But the Ukrainian army must be ready to take advantage of such opportunities, he said. Although Western governments have regularly promised military assistance to Ukraine, in many cases the promised munitions have been slow to reach the front lines.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, as of July 1, the United States and Germany had provided less than half of announced military aid to Ukraine. (The institute said it plans to update its numbers this month.)

Zelensky calls on West to ban all Russian travelers

But Zelensky wants his benefactors to do more than supply arms to help his country stave off the threat of annexation, an impending doom made more real on Monday when the head of the Russian-appointed occupation administration in Zaporizhzhia signed a decree to move forward with a September 11 referendum.

In an interview, Zelensky told the Washington Post that the United States and its allies should take the unprecedented step of banning all Russian travelers from leaving their country.

“The most important sanctions are closing the borders – because the Russians are taking someone else’s land,” Zelensky said. Russians should “live in their own world”, he added, “until they change their philosophy”.

Isabelle Khurshudyan in Kyiv contributed to this report.

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