Biden announces $3 billion military aid package for Ukraine on Independence Day

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, U.S. August 9, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Aug 24 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden marked Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday with $3 billion in security aid, Washington’s largest aid package since Russian invasion six months ago, but which could take months or even years to reach Kyiv. Read more

The aid announcement came as US officials warned that Russia appeared to be planning to launch further attacks in the coming days against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities.

“The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty,” Biden said in a statement announcing the package, noting the “bittersweet” anniversary of the independence of Kyiv from the Russian-dominated Soviet regime 31 years ago.

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The new package uses funds from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) allocated by Congress to allow the Biden administration to source weapons from industry, a process that can take time, rather than to from existing US weapons stocks.

The speed depends on whether defense companies already have assembly lines working on the weapon, how much capacity they have, and how long it will take to adjust schedules if necessary.

White House spokesman John Kirby said the range of weapons systems would take different times to reach Ukraine, with surface-to-air and radar systems taking longer.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said in some cases it would take one, two or even three years to get the weapons to Ukraine.

“The capability set here is really aimed at providing Ukraine with what it will need in the medium to long term, so it’s not relevant to the fight today, tomorrow, next week,” he said. Kahl told reporters.

“It’s relevant to Ukraine’s ability to defend itself and deter further aggression a year from now, two years from now,” he added.

The Pentagon said the new package would include six additional surface-to-air missile systems known as NASAMS, 24 counter-artillery radars, Puma drones and counter-drone systems known as VAMPIRE.

The VAMPIRE system uses small missiles to fire drones from the sky.

In total, the United States has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration in January 2021. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $15.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

Since the invasion of Russian forces on February 24 in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine, the conflict has turned into a war of attrition fought mainly in the east and the south of the country.

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Reporting by Steve Holland, Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart with additional reporting by Susan Heavey; edited by Alex Richardson, Hugh Lawson, Mark Heinrich, David Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Idrees Ali

Thomson Reuters

National Security Correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington DC Reports on US military activity and operations around the world and the impact they are having. Reported from over two dozen countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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