US sending Ukraine new $1 billion arms package amid grinding Donbas fight

A Donetsk People’s Republic militia’s multiple rocket launcher fires from its position not far from Panteleimonivka, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, May 28, 2022. Day after day, Russia is pounding the Donbas region of Ukraine with relentless artillery and air raids, making slow but steady progress to seize the industrial heartland of its neighbour. With the conflict now in its fourth month, it’s a high-stakes campaign that could dictate the course of the entire war. (Alexei Alexandrov/AP)

By Joe Gould

WASHINGTON ― The U.S. will send Ukraine another $1 billion in weapons to fight Russia, including Harpoon anti-ship launchers for the first time, and more ammunition for high-tech, medium-range rocket launchers, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

The U.S. aid will include two Harpoon launchers and an unspecified number of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, rockets for previously committed M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in Brussels. Also included are 18 M777 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition and thousands of secure radios.

Amid calls from Washington and Kyiv for more and faster shipments of weapons for Ukrainian forces, Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Russia’s military superiority and defended U.S. and allied efforts to even the odds. With Ukrainian forces facing a tough fight for Eastern Ukraine, the U.S. has been sending arms meant to take out positions from which Russian forces launch brutal artillery barrages.

“When you’re in the fight, you can never get enough, and you can never get it quick enough,” Austin said at a press conference with Milley. “But having said all that, we’re going to work hard to make sure we’re doing everything humanly possible ― we’re going to continue to move heaven and earth to get them the capability that they need.”

The new U.S. aid uses a combination of $350 million in presidential authority to draw equipment from U.S. military stocks and $650 million in the separate Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Defence officials say the Pentagon plans to use USAI to buy truck-mounted Harpoon launchers, which the U.S. doesn’t operate, but the missiles themselves would come from allies and partners. Denmark previously committed to providing Harpoons to Ukraine.

“The bravery, resilience, and determination of the Ukrainian people continues to inspire the world. And the United States, together with our allies and partners, will not waver in our commitment to the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom,” Biden said.


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