By Spy Uganda Correspondent
President Joe Biden announced he approved a new $325 million military aid package for Kyiv as he welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House on Thursday.
While the package will not include the ATACMS long-range missiles for which Zelensky has pleaded for months, it will contain additional missiles, rockets and ammunition the US has sent Ukraine in previous packages.
The new package will include an undisclosed number of AIM-9M missiles for air defense, HIMARS rockets, Avenger air-defense systems, 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds for howitzers, Tube-Launched Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided missiles and Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems.
The US is also sending more than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition, as well as .50 caliber machine guns meant to take out Iranian-made military drones that Russian troops have been using to surveil and kill Ukrainian forces, the Pentagon said in a statement..
In addition to the weapons, the package will also include 59 light tactical vehicles, demolition munitions to clear obstacles, as well as various “spare parts, maintenance and other field equipment,” according to the Pentagon.
Though Zelensky will not be getting his sought-after ATACMS, he said it was “very important” that he meet with Biden at the White House Thursday.
“Today I’m in Washington to strengthen our coalition to defend Ukrainian children, our families, our homes, freedom and democracy in the world,” he said. “I look forward this President to our discussion for the benefit of our nations and the world.”
The weapons and equipment, all of which will come from Defense Department stockpiles, were approved as some Republicans in Congress question the future of sending Kyiv additional military aid. However, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday said he believed the vast majority of lawmakers – both Democrats and Republicans – still favor supporting Ukraine.
Amid the reported hesitancy among certain GOP members, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy declined Zelensky’s request to speak before a joint session of Congress while he was in Washington on Thursday. The Ukrainian president’s previous addresses to lawmakers had drummed up support for additional aid for Ukraine’s fight to expel Russian troops from its territory.
Acknowledging that some surveys have indicated a softening of support for arming Ukraine among the American public, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Patrick Ryder said it was important “to re-emphasize why Ukraine matters.”
“In addition to helping our Ukrainian partners to defend themselves from unprovoked aggression, the implications not only on European security but also on U.S. and international security are very stark,” he said, warning that Russian President Vladimir Zelensky would likely invade other nations if he wins the war.
Thursday’s aid package was the 47th that the Biden administration has sent Ukraine – the vast majority of which were contributed after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24, 2022, according to the Pentagon. The new $325 million package brings the total amount sent to Ukraine since the war’s start to roughly $44 billion.