The US will send additional military aid worth $775 million to Kiev, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The newest batch of weapons will include howitzers, drones and mine-clearing equipment, as well as munitions for the HIMARS rocket launchers and other US-made weapons.
Citing Defense Department sources, US media reported that the military assistance package is expected to include 16 105mm howitzers and munitions for them, as well as AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles, 40 MaxxPro mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAP), and 50 Humvees.
For the first time, the US will be supplying the Ukrainian forces with unmanned aerial systems, specifically 15 Scan Eagle surveillance drones. Their delivery would provide Ukraine with “better reconnaissance around the front lines,” a Pentagon official told the media.
Kiev will also get munitions for the HIMARS rocket lanuchers the US has previously supplied to Ukraine. According to the Pentagon, the US seeks to help Ukrainian forces make gains on the battlefield.
“We want to make sure that Ukraine has a steady stream of ammunition to meet its needs, and that’s what we’re doing with this package,” the official said.
According to the New York Post, the delivery will also involve 36,000 artillery rounds and 1,000 Javelin portable anti-tank missiles. Other reports mentioned TOW anti-tank missiles as well.
It is unclear when the weapons and ammunition are expected to arrive in Ukraine. The announcement came about two weeks after the US President Joe Biden’s administration approved a $1 billion military aid package to Ukraine, the largest so far. That package included ammunition for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) – air defense systems that are yet to arrive in Ukraine – as well as howitzers and HIMARS.
Friday’s announcement brings the total cost of US military assistance to Kiev to about $10.6 billion, according to US media. It comes after some US analysts questioned the effectiveness of some weapons systems supplied to Ukraine.
Writing in Business Insider this week, Michael Peck noted that the anti-radar HARM missiles, designed to hit enemy air defense systems, would only have “limited impact” on the conflict in Ukraine. Kiev possesses a rather limited number of planes that could launch them and might struggle to turn striking Russian air defenses into a major advantage on the battlefield that is still largely defined by artillery strikes, Peck said.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.