President Joe Biden has made it abundantly clear that his administration is all-in on backing Ukraine in its fight against invading Russian forces and has not been shy in announcing the financial and military aid he has authorized in support of Ukraine’s defense.
The president on Tuesday announced yet another aid package he had authorized, this one comprised of about $800 million worth of military equipment and weapons, some of which have not previously been supplied to Ukraine by the U.S., the Daily Caller reported.
The purported reason for this additional trance of assistance, which was announced following a phone call between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was in preparation for a renewed offensive by Russian forces in the eastern Donbas region of the embattled nation.
Biden authorizes additional weapons for Ukraine
In a statement Tuesday morning, President Biden announced that “my Administration is authorizing an additional $800 million in weapons, ammunition, and other security assistance to Ukraine.”
“The Ukrainian military has used the weapons we are providing to devastating effect,” he continued. “As Russia prepares to intensify its attack in the Donbas region, the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with the capabilities to defend itself.”
This new package of assistance will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine. These new capabilities include artillery systems, artillery rounds, and armored personnel carriers. I have also approved the transfer of additional helicopters.
Biden’s statement further noted that additional assistance from other allied nations would be encouraged and facilitated, as it is “critical” that Ukraine be sustained in its fight against Russia, and added, “We cannot rest now. As I assured President Zelenskyy, the American people will continue to stand with the brave Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom.”
Pentagon confirms, details new aid package
According to Reuters, this newly announced round of military aid brings the total amount of assistance provided to Ukraine by the Biden administration to more than $2.5 billion just since the invasion began in late February.
It was also reported that authorization and funding for this aid came by way of what is known as the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which permits a president to transfer certain materials and services from existing U.S. stockpiles without first obtaining the approval of Congress.
As for the weapons systems and “new capabilities” in this latest tranche, Reuters noted that the Pentagon revealed Tuesday that it included 11 Soviet-designed Mi-17 helicopters initially earmarked for Afghanistan, along with 18 155mm howitzers, 40,000 howitzer rounds, counter-battery radar systems, 200 armored personnel carriers, 300 Switchblade drones, as well as a new and possibly still experimental unmanned coastal defense surface craft.
Urging increased production of weapons, ammunition from defense contractors
Also of note according to Reuters was a top-level meeting this week between Pentagon officials and executives from several major defense contractor companies that, according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, was largely centered on those companies ramping up production of certain weapons systems and ammunition to both replenish U.S. stockpiles and continue to supply Ukraine with what is needed to effectively defend itself.
All of this comes, as Biden himself alluded to and Kirby later confirmed, Russian forces have largely withdrawn from northern Ukraine to rest and be resupplied ahead of an anticipated significant escalation of the continued battle in and around eastern Ukraine, where fighting has been ongoing since 2014.