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US sends more military equipment to Ukraine

President Joe Biden joins the virtual ASEAN East Asia Summit, Oct. 27, 2021. (White House/Released)

The U.S. is expected to deliver more defense equipment to Ukraine today to counter Russia’s rapid escalation of military and diplomatic moves along the Ukrainian border, two U.S. officials told Defense One Friday.

To rush additional aid to Ukraine, President Joe Biden authorized the State Department to allow the transfer of U.S.-provided equipment already in the hands of allies, according to a National Security Council statement provided to Defense One.

Biden has also authorized $200 million “in additional support to meet Ukraine’s emergency defense needs,” according to a U.S. State Department spokesperson. “Those deliveries are ongoing, and there are more scheduled in the coming weeks.”

It was not immediately clear what equipment would be arriving today.

On Wednesday, the State Department approved the transfer of U.S.-made missiles from Baltic NATO members to Ukraine. Estonia is sending Javelin anti-armor missiles while Latvia and Lithuania are sending Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and related equipment, according to a Friday statement by the countries’ defense ministers.

The Pentagon is also searching its own bases and forces in Europe for more.

“The United States is identifying additional equipment held in DoD inventories that can be delivered under the Excess Defense Articles program, among other mechanisms, and we recently notified Congress of its intent to deliver Mi-17 helicopters,” the NSC said in the statement.

Russia has positioned an estimated 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and is conducting large-scale wargames with Belarus. The urgency of the situation in Ukraine prompted the U.S. to transfer the weapons and equipment from existing stockpiles instead, U.S. officials said.

On Friday, press secretary John Kirby declined to say whether the Pentagon thinks those wargames are actually posturing for an invasion.

“We’re not splitting hairs here over whether they’re exercising or they’re not. And again, I’d let them speak to what they’re doing in terms of exercises that they claim they’re conducting,” Kirby said. “We see a sizable force presence that continues to increase. There’s no sign of de-escalation here. And so we remain concerned about that.”

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