Biden released a $ 800 million security package for Ukraine in a call with Zhelensky



CNN

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky that the United States was sending $ 800 million worth of weapons, ammunition and other security assistance to his country.

This comes as US officials have warned of a bloody new phase in the ongoing war as Russia withdraws its forces from the area around the capital, Kiev, centered in eastern Ukraine.

“The weapons we provide are being used by the Ukrainian military to wreak havoc. As Russia prepares to intensify its offensive in the Donbass region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with self-defense capabilities, ”Biden said in a statement.

Biden described the new announcement in an afternoon phone call with Zhelensky, which lasted about an hour.

“Continued dialogue with OPOTUS. Russian war crimes assessed. Additional package of defensive and possible macro-financial assistance discussed. Agreed to increase sanctions,” Zhelensky wrote on Twitter.

The United States is providing Ukraine with 11 Mi-17 helicopters, 300 switchboard drones, 18 howitzers and defense equipment to protect against chemical attacks in the latest security assistance approved by the White House, the Pentagon has announced. In addition, the new arsenal includes 200 M113 armored personnel carriers, 10 anti-tank radars, 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 30,000 sets of body armor and helmets.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the $ 800 million package was intended to “meet Ukrainian emergency needs for today’s fighting” as Russian forces shifted their focus to easing eastern Ukraine. He said the weapons would begin to be shipped to Ukraine “as soon as possible”, adding that security assistance had been dispatched four to five days after the security packages were approved.

As of Tuesday night, two sources said the helicopters had been removed from the aid list, although Biden said in his statement that they were eventually included. Ukraine initially asked the White House at the last minute not to send helicopters, pointing out that more time was needed to assess whether they would be effective. But during a phone call on Wednesday, Zhelensky told Pitton that his country needed them, so they were put back in the package, a source familiar with the matter said.

Kirby said the Mi-17 helicopters included in the package were destined for Afghanistan.

Exports of $ 800 million bring the total amount of US military aid to Ukraine to more than $ 3 billion. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Ukraine’s 2020 defense budget is only about $ 6 billion. Within two months, the United States had provided almost half of its security assistance, underscoring the speed with which the White House worked to send weapons and equipment.

Delivery of previous packages is still complete as the new one is announced. The United States expects the remaining 100 of the top 100 switchboard drone systems to arrive in Ukraine “within the next day,” according to a senior U.S. defense official.

The official also said that anti-Javelin missiles were expected to arrive in Ukraine from the United States in the next 24 hours. The United States has helped coordinate two airlift deliveries into Ukraine from two other countries, an official said during an off-camera conference on Wednesday.

Switchblade drones are small, portable drones that explode when attacked by warships. The drone maker said the smaller model would hit a target six miles away.

“The steady supply of arms to Ukraine by the United States and its allies and allies has been instrumental in sustaining its struggle against the Russian invasion. , ”Biden wrote in a statement.

The Pentagon was still working on how to train some of the new units that US forces would send to the Ukrainians in the security aid package.

“We’re still working on what those options would be, what that training would be like, how many U.S. troops are going to be involved, where it’s going to be, and for how long,” Kirby said. Explanation with reporters.

He said the United States could train Ukrainians in new systems “very, very quickly” by training a small number of Ukrainian troops who could train others, including switchboard drones. Sent in previous help package.

New installment money for Ukraine The Pentagon on Wednesday hosted the chief executives of eight major prime contractors of the military to find out how to quickly arm Ukraine, according to a secret meeting.

The roundtable discussion, chaired by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, focused on the Pentagon’s intentions to maintain the readiness of US forces, support the security of allies, and continue to supply arms to Ukraine.

The Pentagon sought to better understand the challenges facing security contractors in the rapid production of weapons and equipment that have proven important to Ukraine’s security.

On Tuesday, a defense official told CNN that major arms manufacturers were facing severe supply chain problems and labor shortages at affordable prices. The official said production capacity could face additional challenges as Ukraine contracts compete with increased US defense spending for current production.

The roundtable on Wednesday sorted out those concerns in a series of ongoing discussions between the Pentagon and major arms manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin, Radeon and General Dynamics. But it was primarily aimed at “accelerating the production” of weapons for Ukraine, which includes systems that can be dispatched quickly and used effectively with minimal training.

A senior defense official said on Wednesday that large-scale arms shipments to Ukraine had not affected US military readiness. The official called it “prudent” to hold discussions “before it becomes a crisis issue for our own readiness”.

The story was updated with an additional statement on Wednesday.

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