The Biden administration will send Ukraine a new $725 million military aid package and other assistance as it continues to fight Russian forces as Moscow continues to escalate its invasion, the White House said Friday.
The move comes as European defense leaders had pledged weapons and air defense systems to Ukraine and as Russia has unleashed a bombardment of missile strikes targeting Kyiv and other regions.
“We will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield for Ukraine”
Officials said there are no major new weapons in the U.S. package. Instead, the U.S. aid is largely aimed at restocking thousands of rounds of ammunition for the weapons systems Ukraine has been successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia, as the war stretches into its eighth month.
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The new package includes rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, a critical weapon that has improved Ukraine’s ability to strike ammunition depots, bridges and other key targets that erode Russia’s ability to resupply troops. The U.S. has already sent 20 HIMARS to Ukraine, and has promised 18 more that would be delivered in the coming years.
Last week, the British government said it would provide missiles for advanced NASAM anti-aircraft systems that the Pentagon plans to send to Ukraine. Britain is also sending hundreds of drones and 18 howitzer artillery guns. Germany has sent the first of four promised IRIS-T air defense systems, France pledged more artillery, anti-aircraft systems and missiles, the Netherlands said it would send missiles, and Canada is planning to send winter equipment, drone cameras and satellite communications.
Russia has intensified attacks on Ukraine after the bombing of a bridge that links to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. The bridge holds important strategic value to Moscow, which has seen multiple setbacks on the battlefield.
Most recently, Russia has sent bombers to an airbase on the Kola Peninsula roughly 100 miles from Finland and Norway ahead of NATO nuclear exercises in Europe.
Satellite images obtained by Fox News show nearly a dozen supersonic and other long-range bombers capable of launching nuclear weapons. The deployment of Cold War bombers comes days after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to potentially launch a low-yield nuclear strike on Ukraine, saying there was historical “precedent,” a reference to the U.S. dropping nuclear bombs on Japan at the end of World War II.
The Russian show of force near the Barents Sea comes as NATO kicks-off annual nuclear exercises of its own, which will involve U.S. B-52 bombers flying from their base in North Dakota over Europe.
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Since the war began on Feb. 24, the U.S. has committed more than than $17.5 billion in weapons and other equipment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.