WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Thursday it will send another $600 million in military aid to Ukraine, as the U.S. rushes more weapons to fuel Kyiv's counteroffensive that has reclaimed large stretches of the embattled country and forced Russian troops to retreat.
The White House said it was the 21st time that the Defense Department has pulled weapons and other equipment off the shelves to deliver to Ukraine.
The package will include more of the same types of ammunition and equipment that have helped Ukrainian forces beat back the Russian forces in portions of the east and south.
“With admirable grit and determination, the people of Ukraine are defending their homeland and fighting for their future,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s hand at the negotiating table when the time is right,” he said in a statement.
The decision to move on new aid quickly — on the heels of a nearly $2.9 billion infusion of aid and financing support announced last week and more than $3 billion announced in late August — underscore the U.S. intent to ensure that Ukraine can sustain its stunning counterattack that was launched early this month.
That most recent funding included $2.2 billion in long-term military financing announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced during a visit to Ukraine last week, and a $675 million weapons package announced by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Europe that same day.
The $2.2 billion that Blinken announced in Kyiv is for Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors, including NATO members and regional security partners, that are potentially at risk of future Russian aggression, the U.S. said.
Moscow’s recent rout in northeast Ukraine was its largest military defeat since the withdrawal of Russian troops from areas near Kyiv more than five months ago.
The latest package of weapons systems brings the total amount of U.S. aid to Ukraine to nearly $15.9 billion since President Joe Biden took office.
U.S. officials watching the counteroffensive have been careful not to declare a premature victory, noting that Russia still has substantial troops and resources. And they are wary of what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do to turn the tide.
But U.S. leaders also have made clear that the precision weapons and rocket systems provided by the U.S. and allies — including the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and the High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile, or HARM — have been key to the dramatic shift in momentum.
Lolita C. Baldor And Matthew Lee, The Associated Press