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US announces $400 million military aid package for Ukraine

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday, July 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States will send $400 million more in military aid to Ukraine, the Defense Department announced on November 10, saying the package will include large amounts of ammunition and four highly mobile Avenger Air Defense Systems.

National-security adviser Jake Sullivan said the new aid package includes important air defense contributions.

“This increased air defense will be critical for Ukraine as Russia continues to use cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack critical civilian infrastructure,” Sullivan said.

Ammunition for the high mobility artillery rocket systems, known as HIMARS, which Ukraine has been successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia, is also included in the package.

There also will be Stinger missiles for the HAWK surface-to-air antiaircraft system, 10,000 mortar rounds, thousands of artillery rounds for howitzers, 400 grenade launchers, 100 Humvees, cold weather gear, and 20 million rounds of ammunition for smaller guns and rifles.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters THAT the addition of the four Avenger systems will help Ukraine protect its troops against drones, cruise missiles, and attacks from helicopters. She said she did not know when the systems will arrive in Ukraine or how long it will take to train Ukrainian troops to use them.

The new package will be a drawdown of existing inventories of U.S. military equipment, the Defense Department said in a news release.

Including the latest aid, the U.S. has committed more than $18.6 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on February 24, the Defense Department said.

The Pentagon announced the aid package two days after the U.S. midterm elections, which are likely to result in Republicans winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Some Republicans have called for cutting back assistance to Ukraine, while others have called for greater scrutiny of the assistance. Representative Kevin McCarthy (Republican-California), who could become speaker if Republicans win the House, has said his party will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine.

When asked about ongoing aid to Ukraine, Singh said it has had bipartisan support.

“I think there is, in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, a commitment to Ukraine that we’re in this for the long haul,” she said. “So even with the midterms and the outcomes, I think that Ukraine will still see security assistance and support from the United States in their fight.”

President Joe Biden expressed optimism on November 9 that support will go on even if Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress.

“I hope we’ll continue this bipartisan approach of confronting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Biden told reporters.