New $1.2 billion US military aid package to Ukraine: What’s in it?

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(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon on Tuesday announced a new commitment of $1.2 billion in military aid for Ukraine.

The package includes air-defense systems to help Ukrainian forces defend against a near-constant barrage of Russian strikes.

The aid also includes equipment to help “integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles, and radars with Ukraine’s air defense systems,” according to the Pentagon.

“We’re going to continue to rush air-defense capabilities and munitions to help Ukraine control its sovereign skies and to help Ukraine defend its citizens from Russian cruise missiles and Iranian drones,” Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing Tuesday.

At the same time, Ryder confirmed Ukrainian forces thwarted the Russian Kinzhal missile using an American-made Patriot system when asked during the briefing with reporters.

“We can confirm that the Ukrainians took down this Russian missile with a Patriot missile defense system,” Ryder said.

The new $1.2 billion in U.S. military aid will come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which the U.S. uses to purchase weapons and equipment from the defense industry or from partner nations on behalf of Ukraine.

Because the process involves defense contracts and, when not already on shelves, the need to build the requested items, it can take months or years before it reaches Ukraine.

Because of this, USAI represents longer-term support for Ukraine. For more immediate support, the U.S. has used another means called Presidential Drawdown Authority, which pulls equipment from existing American stockpiles to be sent to Ukraine.

“The United States will continue to work with our allies and our partners to provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its immediate battlefield needs and longer term security assistance requirements,” Ryder said.

The new USAI funds will also go toward artillery rounds, commercial satellite imagery services, and ammunition for anti-drone weapons.

The new $1.2 billion package will take the total USAI funds committed to Ukraine so far in fiscal year 2023 to roughly $5 billion. It will take total U.S. security assistance since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February of 2022 to nearly $37 billion.

During a press availability at the State Department Tuesday, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was reserved when asked to comment on reports that the U.K. is preparing to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, weaponry Kyiv has long coveted and that the Biden administration has declined to supply.

“I’m sure you understand that anything to do with operational details, about the nature the timing, the scale of our support would be counterproductive for us to discuss publicly,” he said.

But Cleverly staunchly defended the support provided by the U.S. and the speed at which it has reached Ukraine.

“It is the largest donor of the allies. So I wouldn’t want to imply that there’s either competition in between us or anything else,” he said. “We have worked in close coordination from the very start,” he said.

“The natures of our militaries is different,” he continued. “The natures of our political system is different. There are some things that the UK is able to do more quickly because of the nature of our political system. And there are some things that the American system allows them to do different and better. It’s not about always trying to replicate what our allies do.”

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