US Shells Out $2 Billion In Weapons For Ukraine, One Year Into War

(Photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. announced billions in long-term military aid for Ukraine Friday morning as the war entered its second year.

The nearly-$2 billion package features advanced drones, including the Switchblade 600 Kamikaze drone, and electronic warfare detection equipment, the Pentagon said in a statement Friday. It also includes 155 mm artillery rounds and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems munitions in undefined quantities, an unusual move given that previous assistance packages have generally specified the amount of munitions supplied.

One year after Russia launched the invasion, “Ukraine’s brave defenders have not wavered, and neither has our commitment to support them for as long as it takes,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement. (RELATED: Putin Abandons Landmark Nuclear Arms Treaty With US After Biden Visits Ukraine)

Austin urged allies to remain “clear-eyed” about the stakes of the war, calling it the most urgent threat to face Europe since World War II.

“Difficult times may lie ahead,” Austin warned.

New assistance comes from a DOD authority allowing the Biden administration to order weapons directly off the production line instead of drawing from existing U.S. stockpiles, as has defined much of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

U.S. stockpiles of 155 mm rounds have fallen to critical levels, and it’s unclear how long it will take for the weapons industry to fill both orders for Ukraine and existing orders meant to backfill American stocks.

The U.S. has committed $32 billion in security assistance alone to Ukraine since the war began, Austin said.

The U.S. cracked down numerous companies — including those based in China — thought to be assisting Russia’s war effort as the conflict in Ukraine begins its second year, The Wall Street Journal reported. The sanctions package, announced in coordination with Group of Seven allies on Friday, names more than 200 individuals and entities tied to Russia’s defense sector as well as 90 companies helping Russia evade sanctions and restock its depleting weapons stores.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at the G7 meeting said the U.S. is preparing an additional $10 billion in economic assistance for Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Russia is increasingly reliant on partners to supply goods sourced from Western companies before the war, as the U.S. and allies levied sanctions criminalizing business dealings with more and more Russian entities, according to the WSJ.

Yellen also said the U.S. has warned Chinese officials and companies against helping Russia evade sanctions, according to the WSJ. The threats come as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. has information that China is considering a move to permit its companies to directly transfer lethal aid, like weapons, to Russia.

However, the U.S. has not said what those consequences might be.

The U.K. joined the sanctions effort Friday, placing export bans on “every item Ukraine has found Russia using on the battlefield to date” aimed at “undermining Putin’s military machine,” according to a press release.

European Union member countries also plan to block more than $11 billion in Russian imports of goods including products that have both military and commercial applications, the WSJ reported.

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