For the first time, the US is sending Ukraine Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers.
President Biden announced Wednesday after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US is sending Ukraine a new $1 billion weapons package, the largest single arms shipment Washington will be providing Kyiv since Russia invaded on February 24. Biden also announced the US is giving Ukraine an additional $225 million in humanitarian assistance.
For the first time, the US will be sending Ukraine Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers, marking another escalation in US military aid. The Harpoon systems have a range of over 100 miles, making Russian ships in the Black Sea potential targets, and widening the area where Ukraine can use Western arms. In May, the US facilitated a Harpoon shipment from Denmark to Ukraine.
The $1 billion weapons package also includes 155mm Howitzers, 155mm ammunition, and additional ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the US first sent Kyiv in the last arms package that was approved on June 1.
According to the Pentagon, the full list of arms in the new package includes:
- 18 155mm Howitzers
- 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition
- 18 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems
- Four Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment
- Spare parts and other equipment
- Two Harpoon coastal defense systems
- Thousands of secure radios
- Thousands of Night Vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics
- Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs
The $1 billion came from the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill President Biden signed into law in May. The Pentagon said the $1 billion consisted of $350 million from the president’s drawdown authority and $650 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds.
The presidential drawdown authority allows Biden to ship Ukraine weapons from the US military’s stockpiles. The USAI gives Biden the power to purchase weapons for Ukraine from US arms makers. The $40 billion bill authorized $11 billion in presidential drawdown authority and $6 billion for the USAI.
Also on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin led a meeting of military leaders from nearly 50 nations at the Ramstein air base in Germany. Despite the risks of provoking Russia, Western powers continue to pledge more military aid for Kyiv. US and NATO officials have made clear that they expect the war to drag out and that they are prepared to support Ukraine for many years to come.