Biden to Send Artillery, Helicopters, More Drones to Ukraine
s Russian forces prepare for a renewed and expanded armor assault in eastern and southern Ukraine, the Biden Administration on Wednesday authorized a massive $800-million military aid package to help Kyiv fend off Moscow’s unprovoked invasion.
A wide variety of weapons systems have been announced for Ukraine’s military to combat the heavy Russian forces. This includes Howitzer artillery as well armored personnel carrier and Mi-17 helicopters. It also contains a dozen sophisticated radar systems. The Ukrainians will also receive multiple tank-killing weapons, such as 500 Javelin missiles and 300 Switchblade drones.
Officials from the administration say that an inventory of weapons, equipment and other items was created after discussions between U.S.-Ukraine officials over what was necessary on the battlefield. It includes more than 12 items. This is a significant increase in U.S. participation in the Ukrainian war. The U.S. will supply 18 155mm Howitzer Cannons with 40,000 rounds, for the first-time. American soldiers will direct train the Ukrainian military on using some of the more advanced equipment like the AN/TPQ 36 Counter-Artillery Radars and AN/MPQ 64 Sentinel Air Surveillance Radars.
The Ukrainian army defeated a Russian-led, bloody offensive that lasted for weeks in the area of Kyiv. This surprised the more-skilled Russian forces but it now faces increasing danger on other fronts. The massive U.S. transfer comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky released an online video Wednesday warning that the war risks becoming an “endless bloodbath, spreading misery, suffering, and destruction” without additional weaponry to beat back a much larger, more technologically advanced enemy.
The weapons and equipment are being sent under a so-called “presidential drawdown authority,” which allows Biden to transfer the hardware from U.S. stocks without Congressional approval in order to speed up delivery in an emergency. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the White House has provided Ukraine with $1.7 billion worth of aid. Since Biden’s election last year, more than $2.4billion in U.S. security aid has been sent to Kyiv. The administration had initially relied on diplomacy with Moscow to resolve the increasing tensions in Ukraine, but Putin’s invasion prompted the U.S. to draw up more aggressive strategies to respond to Russia.
“This new package of assistance will contain many of the highly effective weapons systems we have already provided and new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine,” President Joe Biden said in a statement, following a phone call with Zelensky. “The steady supply of weapons the United States and its Allies and partners have provided to Ukraine has been critical in sustaining its fight against the Russian invasion. They have helped to ensure Putin’s failure in the initial war to seize and control Ukraine. We cannot rest now.”
Each day, eight to ten planeloads have been delivered by the Pentagon of anti-aircraft, antimor missiles, remote controlled drones, ammunition, and laser-guided Rockets. On Wednesday, the Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and top U.S. defense officials met with the chief executives of the eight largest U.S. defense contractors to discuss industry’s capacity to meet Ukraine’s needs if the war with Russia drags on for several years. “We have been giving an awful lot of stuff to the Ukrainians, and so it would be the prudent thing to do before it becomes a crisis issue for our own readiness to have a discussion with them about accelerated production and advanced production,” said a senior defense official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
At a moment when Russia is moving troops and heavy arms into the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, it is determined that America’s hardware will be delivered quickly. This is in response to Russia’s concerted effort to push for Russian border regions. After Russia’s forces were unable to topple the government in Kyiv, Moscow has shifted its war aims in recent days to less ambitious objectives. “There has been a sense of urgency,” the official said. “We have been pushing things to (the Ukrainians) at unprecedented speeds. From the time it gets into the region, it can be in the Ukrainian hands in as little as 48 hours, sometimes faster.”
While the Biden administration has repeated its insistence that U.S. forces will not engage in Ukraine’s war, the president has increased U.S. defenses by shifting approximately 14,000 troops eastwards across Europe. The majority of these troops are based in Poland. Ukraine does not belong to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, (NATO), but it is bordered by four other countries, namely Hungary, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The U.S. and other NATO allies have pledged to protect their eastern and central European members under the alliance’s defining Article 5 mutual defense commitments. According to John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, these forward-deployed troops could be used for training Ukrainian forces in new weapon systems.
“We’re still working through what those options are going to look like, what that training is going to look like: How many US troops are going to be involved in it? Where’s it going to be? What will it take? It’s going to depend. We’re still working our way through that,” he said. “But we believe that we can put together appropriate training for some of these systems very, very quickly. These are not highly complex systems.”
The Biden Administration worked hard to prevent escalating tensions between Russia and the United States. Russia has a nuke arsenal that is comparable in scope to America’s stockpile. Kirby admitted that this package of aid could be viewed as being escalatory but said the administration did its best to address the issues. “Every decision we’re making is we balance the needs of Ukraine to defend itself with our responsibilities, our absolute responsibilities, to think about escalation management,” Kirby said. “And if we weren’t, you should challenge us on that. But these decisions are all done prudently.”
Unexpected setbacks for the Russian army in their war on Ukraine have led to the invasion forces hitting more civilian targets with airstrikes. Daily bombardment has decimated hospitals, schools, and apartments across the country. Pentagon claims that more than 1,550 Russian missiles have been launched, with many appearing to be directed at their intended target. Ukrainian rebels accuse Russian forces of using chemical weaponry, though these claims are not confirmed.
In the meantime, Russia has been charged with numerous war crimes, including attacks on medical facilities and executions. They also face charges of rape, murder, looting, as well as forced deportation of Russian civilians. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 100 page report was released Wednesday by independent experts. It stated that evidence has been provided that Russian soldiers have committed human rights violations and against international humanitarian law.
In recent days, U.S. and European officials have warned that Moscow was preparing a new military offensive in Ukraine’s eastern region. During its last invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the Russian military maintained a continued presence in two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine, known as the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Donetsk has been home to the Russian security forces’ puppet governments, which have been armed, funded, and run out of Donetsk since 2014. The Russian security services expect it to continue expanding into the surrounding territories in the months and weeks ahead.
After the Russian withdrawal from Ukraine, it is expected that they will replenish and restock their military forces. Ukraine asked for specific weapons in preparation for the new assault. “These kinds of capabilities are based on what they believe they’re facing,” Kirby said. “They will be facing Russian forces that are familiar with the territory, and that part of Ukraine, that they’ve been fighting over for eight years.”
Here are more must-read stories from TIME