The US government announced approximately $1.1 billion in additional military aid for Ukraine as part of its commitment to support the country’s long-term defense needs amid its war with Russia.
The announcement was made by the Department of Defense (DoD) on September 28th. It was indicated that the package is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which does not pull weapons directly from U.S. stockpiles but instead funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment through the private sector.
The latest package brings the total amount of American aid to Ukraine to over $16.2 billion since Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24th.
Since Biden took office in January 2021, the United States has committed approximately $16.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, and, prior to the invasion, the United States had committed around $1.8 billion in weapons and military training to Ukraine.
The DoD noted that unlike Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which DoD has continued to leverage to deliver equipment to Ukraine from DoD stocks at a historic pace, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from the industry.
US Aid to fund High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems
During the announcement, the DoD said the US military aid to Ukraine will fund eighteen of the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS, which have a range of about forty miles and can strike faraway targets with greater accuracy.
Officials noted that HIMARS have played an instrumental role in Ukraine’s success against Russia in recent weeks, and the funding also covers ammunition for the rocket systems.
Besides the HIMARS, the aid will also fund 150 Humvees and 150 tactical vehicles needed to tow heavy weapons, including: 40 trucks and 80 trailers used to transport heavy equipment; two radars for unmanned aerial systems; 20 multi-mission radars; counter-unmanned aerial systems; tactical secure communications systems, surveillance systems, and optics; and explosive ordnance disposal equipment.
Funding needed for body armor and other field equipment, training, maintenance, and sustainment will also be provided for by the aid.
The Pentagon, in a statement announcing the latest funding, said, “Together with our Allies and partners, our unified efforts will help Ukraine continue to be successful today while building the enduring strength of Ukraine’s forces to ensure the continued freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people.”
Military Aid to Ukraine comes after referendums in Russian-held regions
The latest announcement comes as Russia tries to rebound from recent combat losses and use the referendums to politically solidify the gains it had made in the four occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson.
Russia says, according to results announced early Wednesday, those referendums showed resounding support for joining Russia, with Luhansk voting 98.2 percent in favor of joining Russia, Donetsk 99.23 percent in favor, the Kherson region voting 87.05 percent in favor, and the Zaporizhzhia region voting 93.1 percent to become part of Russia.
However, U.S., Ukrainian, and NATO officials have described these as “sham” referendums, responding by increasing their support for Ukraine with a new wave of sanctions aimed at Russian officials allegedly involved in staging the polls. There has also been increased funding for Ukraine.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the U.S. has determined that Russia falsified the results of the referendums. Russia said these referendums showed overwhelming support for annexation.
“These so-called referenda have been an exercise in coercion and disinformation, executed by puppet authorities following orders from Russia,” she said.
She signaled that the White House was preparing new sanctions against Russia in response to the referendums and reported that the U.S. and its allies planned to impose a “severe economic cost on Russia when they move forward with annexation.”
Jean-Pierre further stressed, “We will not be deterred from supporting Ukraine…we will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people, and provide them with the security assistance they need to defend themselves, for as long as it takes.”
In a statement on September 23rd, NATO officials said, “NATO Allies will not recognize their illegal and illegitimate annexation. These lands are [Ukrainian]. We call on all states to reject Russia’s blatant attempts at territorial conquest.”