The Biden administration announced on Wednesday it was providing an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russia, a package that includes shipments of additional howitzers, ammunition and coastal defense systems, according to CNN.
US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday ahead of the announcement, which the Pentagon said included providing Ukraine with 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of howitzer ammunition and two Harpoon coastal defense systems.
The US will also provide $225 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, which Biden said will go toward “supplying safe drinking water, critical medical supplies and health care, food, shelter, and cash for families to purchase essential items.”
Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley on Wednesday were in Brussels, where a meeting was held with a working group of nearly 50 countries to discuss the crisis.
“I informed President Zelensky that the United States is providing another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas,” Biden said in a statement after the call. “We also discussed Secretary Austin’s efforts in Brussels today to coordinate additional international support for the Ukrainian armed forces.”
Speaking in Brussels, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US and Ukraine are “working in lockstep to meet Ukraine’s requests for new capabilities, especially its need for long-range fires, armor and coastal defense.”
The latest weapons package comes as Ukraine’s military is burning through its Soviet-era ammunition, while Ukrainian officials have pleaded with the West to send additional heavy weaponry as the war with Russia girds on. Western intelligence and military officials believe the war is at a critical stage that could determine the long-term outcome of the conflict, while Russia has amassed a significant artillery advantage around two key cities in eastern Ukraine.
Zelensky thanked Biden on Wednesday for his “consistent, unwavering support” and for mobilizing the international security, according to a statement from the Ukrainian president’s office.
“The security support from the United States is unprecedented. It brings us closer to a common victory over the Russian aggressor,” Zelensky said.
A Pentagon spokesman said the US has now committed more than $5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February. The latest tranche of weapons includes ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, and tactical vehicles “to recover equipment,” as well as thousands of secure radios and thousands of night vision devices, thermal sightsand “other optics,” the Pentagon said.
The package is expected to include weapons and supplies that can be quickly shipped from existing US stockpiles as well as issuing new contracts for long term supplies for