The new assistance includes artillery, drones and ammunition, as the United States seeks to help Ukrainians adjust to the new phase of the war.
The Pentagon has revealed more details about a new USA. military aid package to Ukraine, which President Joe Biden says is intended to help bolster Ukrainian forces to respond to Russia’s offensive in the east of the country.
Biden announced the new $800 million assistance package earlier on Thursday, adding that he would ask US lawmakers for more funds to keep military aid “flowing without interruption” to Ukraine.
The Pentagon said the aid is “tailored to meet Ukraine’s critical needs for today’s fighting as Russian forces launch a renewed offensive” in the eastern Donbas region.
That’s where Russian forces changed their focus, launching an offensive in the area on Monday and shelling cities and towns across the region in the days after.
The new US military aid comes just over a week after the Biden administration Announced a first US$800 million military aid package for kyiv, after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for more heavy weapons.
Here’s what’s in the latest US package:
It includes 78 155mm howitzers and an equal number of vehicles to move the artillery weapons, as well as 144,000 rounds of ammunition to accompany them.
The United States will also deliver more than 121 Phoenix Ghost tactical unmanned aerial systems (drones) to Ukraine as part of the package, which also contains spare parts and field equipment.
The Pentagon said in a statement that this brings the total US military assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24 to approximately $3.4 billion.
Speaking to reporters, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the artillery will be adapted to the flat terrain in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces are now focusing their offensive.
Kirby said the howitzers will serve as “additional firepower” for Ukrainian forces.
“Understanding that terrain, understanding the geography, understanding Russian doctrine here, we believed, but more critically, the Ukrainians believed, that they needed additional artillery firepower,” he said.
“And that’s what these will offer in addition to the 18 that are already starting to move in as well.”
The Phoenix Ghost drone has been in development since before the invasion, Kirby said.
“But we will continue to push that development in a way that is in tune with Ukraine’s requirements for unmanned aerial systems of a tactical nature in eastern Ukraine,” he added.
He said the drone is primarily, but not exclusively, designed to attack.
“Not going into the specs, but the kinds of things this drone can do lend themselves well to this particular type of terrain,” Kirby told reporters. “I think I’m going to leave it at that. But its purpose is similar to the Switchblade… which is basically a one-way drone, an attack drone. And that’s essentially what it’s designed to do.”