Pentagon announces $300 million weapons package for Ukraine

Pentagon announces $300 million weapons package for Ukraine

The Pentagon has announced $300 million in additional aid to Ukraine.

The latest package includes a bevy of unmanned aerial systems, secure communications, and laser-guided rockets among other equipment aimed at bolstering “Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself.”

“This decision underscores the United State’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repeal Russia’s war of choice,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday.

President Biden has signed off on more than $1.6 billion in aid to Ukraine since the start of the war, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, and millions of rounds of small arms ammunition while imposing harsh sanctions on the Russian economy.

Earlier this month Congress passed its omnibus government funding bill which included $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has pleaded with Western allies to help Ukraine battle Russia’s bombardment of his country with a NATO-enforced no-fly zone and fighter jets to protect Ukraine’s skies. NATO countries have rejected those requests for fear of being drawn into a direct war with Moscow.

The president has walked a fine line to avoid further escalating the war. Earlier this month, the administration scuttled an offer by Poland to supply Kyiv with Soviet-era MiG fighter jets that would be transshipped through a U.S. military base in Germany. The Pentagon said the Polish offer as structured was “not feasible” and could prove provocative to Russia.

The administration is weighing options to backfill Slovakia with U.S.-made missile defense systems to accommodate the transfer of S-300 surface-air missiles to Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Slovakia’s Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad offered to transfer Soviet-era systems in Slovakia’s inventory to Ukraine, but said any transfer would require a “proper replacement.”

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Celeste Wallander told a House Armed Services Committee hearing this week that the U.S. was still considering the proposal.

A National Security Council spokesperson said that the administration “strongly” supports transferring anti-air systems to Ukraine.

“We have provided more than 1,000 of our anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, and helped the Ukrainians acquire other Soviet- and Russian-made air defense systems they’ve been trained to use, including helping replenish munitions for those systems,” the spokesperson said. “We want to see air defense equipment continue to move into Ukraine, so we are working closely with our Slovakian allies on their requests.”