US to send $3 billion in aid to Ukraine as war drags on for 6 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Russia’s war on Ukraine drags on, U.S. security assistance turns into a longer-term campaign that will likely keep more U.S. military troops in Europe in the future. , including imminent plans to announce approximately $3 billion in additional aid. training and equipping Ukrainian forces to fight for years, US officials said.

US officials told The Associated Press the package is expected to be announced on Wednesday, the day the war reaches six months and Ukraine celebrates Independence Day. The money will fund contracts for up to three types of drones and other weapons, ammunition and equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, they said.

The aid total – which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and is the largest to date – could change a bit overnight, but probably not by much. . Officials said it would include money for smaller hand-launched Puma drones, longer-endurance Scan Eagle surveillance drones, which are launched by catapult, and, for the first time, Britain’s system of Vampire drones, which can be launched. ships.

Several officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid ahead of its public release.

Unlike most previous packages, the new funding is largely aimed at helping Ukraine secure its medium-to-long-term defense posture, according to officials familiar with the matter. Past shipments, most made under the authority of the Presidential Drawdown Authority, have focused on Ukraine’s more immediate arms and ammunition needs and involved material the Pentagon already has in stock and can be shipped. in a short time.

In addition to providing longer-term assistance that Ukraine can use for possible future defense needs, the new package aims to reassure Ukrainian officials that the United States intends to continue its support. , regardless of the daily back and forth of the conflict, officials said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday underscored the focus on more attention as he reaffirmed the alliance’s support for the conflict-torn country.

“Winter is coming, and it will be tough, and what we are seeing now is a bitter war of attrition. It is a battle of wills and a battle of logistics. Therefore, we must maintain our support for Ukraine over the long term, so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign and independent nation,” Stoltenberg said, speaking at a virtual Crimea conference hosted by Ukraine.

Six months after the invasion of Russia, the war has slowed down, as the two sides exchange combat strikes and small advances to the east and south. Both sides have seen thousands of soldiers killed and injured, while Russia’s bombardment of cities has killed countless innocent civilians.

Russia is feared to intensify its attacks on civilian infrastructure and government installations in Ukraine in the coming days due to Independence Day and the sixth anniversary of the invasion.

Late Monday, the United States Embassy in Ukraine and the State Department issued a new security alert for Ukraine that repeated a call for Americans in the country to leave due to the danger.

“Given Russia’s track record in Ukraine, we are concerned about the continued threat that Russian strikes pose to civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Other NATO allies are also marking Independence Day with new aid announcements.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country was providing more than 500 million euros (nearly $500 million) in aid, including powerful anti-aircraft systems. The aid will also include rocket launchers, ammunition, anti-drone equipment, a dozen armored recovery vehicles and three other IRIS-T long-range air defense systems, German news agency dpa reported.

Funding still needs to be approved by parliament, and part of it will not be disbursed until next year.

And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $3.85 million for two projects in Ukraine under the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program. It includes approximately $2.9 million in funding for the continued development of the Ukrainian National Police and other emergency services, and approximately $950,000 to help advise the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

To date, the United States has provided about $10.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration, including 19 weapons packages taken directly from Department of Defense stockpiles since August 2021.

U.S. defense leaders are also considering plans that will expand the training of Ukrainian troops outside their country and of militaries on the eastern and southern flanks of Europe who feel most threatened by Russian aggression.

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Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

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