The U.S. has flown about 180 tons of weapons into Ukraine in the past three days, in an effort to bolster the countries defenses against a possible Russian invasion.
So far, the U.S. has delivered the first two weapons shipments on military cargo flights, with more shipments to follow. The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine announced the arrival of the first 100 tons of weapons for Ukraine on Friday night.
“The first of several parties to the security package recently approved by President Biden for Ukraine arrived in Kyiv tonight. This cargo includes about 200,000 pounds of lethal weapons, including ammunition for the defenders of Ukraine on the front line,” the U.S. embassy said in a translated tweet.
On Sunday, a second 80-ton load of weapons arrived in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksei Reznikov tweeted several photos of the weapons shipment.
“The second bird in Kyiv! More than 80 tons of weapons to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities from our friends in the USA!,” Reznikov wrote. “And this is not the end. P.S. the cargo arrived under dependable protection @[email protected]@[email protected]”
According to Reuters, the U.S. is sending a total of $200 million in defensive aid to Ukraine.
The tons of lethal aid comes to Ukraine as Russia has gathered around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders for months. Last week, the Biden administration warned Russia could invade “at any point.”
In addition to these U.S. weapons shipments, the Biden administration is reportedly working through the process to transfer ownership of five Mi-17 transport helicopters to Ukraine. The Russian-made transport helicopters were reportedly purchased to give to the U.S.-backed Afghan government before its collapse, and are already in the Ukraine where they were being prepared to hand over ownership.
Ukraine already uses Mi-17 transport helicopters and the five additional helicopters could theoretically be integrated into their fleet with minimal additional training required. Various versions of the helicopter can carry between 24 and 37 troops. Some variants can also be equipped as gunships, carrying rocket pods and machine guns.
The U.S. has also reportedly granted permission to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to begin transferring their own stockpiles of U.S. military equipment to Ukraine.
Latvia and Lithuania would reportedly provide the anti-aircraft missiles, which could help Ukrainian forces fend off Russian aircraft. Russia’s helicopters and planes would likely prove crucial early on in a Russian invasion of Ukraine, attacking ground targets and rapidly moving troops and supplies to outmaneuver Ukrainian defenses.
Estonia would reportedly send Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine. The U.S. has provided such anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in the past and they could prove useful in fending off Russian armored units.
Last week, United Kingdom Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the U.K. had also begun sending “light anti-armor, defensive weapon systems” to Ukraine. Wallace said the U.K.’s shipments “are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They are to use in self-defense.”