U.S. to send $450 million in security aid to Ukraine in latest package

Ukrainian servicemen patrol an area of ​​the city of Sievierodonetsk, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine June 20, 2022. Picture taken June 20, 2022. REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak

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WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – The United States will provide an additional $450 million in security aid to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Moscow’s forces are advancing into eastern Ukraine in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as Donbass, where Ukraine fears some of its troops may be surrounded by a Russian pincer movement.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the package would be valued at $450 million and would include four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 18 coastal and river patrol boats and thousands of rounds.

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Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, President Joe Biden’s administration has provided $6.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Washington was working closely with Kyiv to identify the types of weapons that could best meet their needs in each package.

“The reason we do it like this is to keep it relevant to what’s happening on the battlefield,” Kirby told reporters during a White House briefing.

Earlier Thursday, Ukraine announced it had received the first tranche of HIMARS, a powerful long-range weapons system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide in the months-long battle.

The latest package comes after Biden last week announced a $1 billion arms injection for Ukraine, including anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition.

The war has entered a phase of brutal attrition in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating overwhelming artillery firepower on Donbass, which Moscow claims on behalf of the separatists.

Ukraine says it needs the HIMARS systems to better match the range of Russian rocket systems it says are widely used to strike Ukrainian positions in the Donbass.

Washington said it received assurances from Kyiv that these longer-range weapons would not be used to attack Russian territory, fearing an escalation of the conflict.

US officials have said that while HIMARS are important to Ukrainian forces, no weapon system alone can change the war.

Moscow has warned it will hit targets in Ukraine they “have yet to hit” if the West provides longer-range missiles to Ukraine for use in high-precision mobile rocket systems.

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Reporting by Steve Holland and Idrees Ali; Editing by Mark Porter, Deepa Babington and Daniel Wallis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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