By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
The US is expected to announce a new $3 billion weapons package for Ukraine on Wednesday as Washington is shifting to a longer-term campaign to support Kyiv in its war against Russia, US officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The new military aid will be the single largest weapons package that the US will be providing Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, and it will bring the total of direct military aid for Kyiv since the war started to about $13.6 billion. The $3 billion is being pulled from the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill that President Biden signed into law in May.
The $3 billion weapons package will be given to Ukraine under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which enables the US government to buy weapons from arms makers and send them to Ukraine. The US officials told AP that the money will fund contracts for drones and other weapons that may not see the battlefront for a year or two.
The majority of the US military aid for Kyiv has been authorized by the Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows President Biden to send weapons to Ukraine directly from US military stockpiles, enabling the US to ship the arms to Ukraine almost immediately. Since the USAI involves purchases and contracts, the process of getting the arms to Ukraine takes longer than the Drawdown Authority.
Unlike previous arms packages, the new $3 billion one will focus on Ukraine’s medium to long-term needs as opposed to their immediate needs on the battlefield. As the US and NATO have made clear that they want to support Ukraine in its war against Russia for years to come, there are no signs that the conflict will end anytime soon.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that the Western military alliance “must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term, so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation.”
The announcement of the new weapons package on Wednesday will coincide with the day Ukraine celebrates its independence and also marks six months since Russia launched its invasion.