The Biden administration announced a Ukraine assistance package valued at $300 million Wednesday as Ukraine finalizes preparations for an imminent counteroffensive.
The latest package includes mounts of artillery rounds, howitzers, Carl-Gustaf anti-tank rifles and Hydra-70 rockets, which are unguided or “dumb” rockets fired from helicopters that could help Ukraine weaken entrenched Russian ground positions, Reuters reported. Weapons will be pulled from existing U.S. stocks so they arrive on the front lines in haste, marking the 37th drawdown of Department of Defense (DOD) inventories since August 2021, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The package “includes additional ammunition for U.S.-provided HIMARS, additional howitzers, artillery and mortar rounds, and anti-armor capabilities that Ukraine is using to push back against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression valued at up to $300 million,” the Pentagon said. (RELATED: Video Shows Smoke Over Kremlin After Alleged Putin Assassination Attempt, Russia Vows ‘Retaliatory Measures’)
Western countries anticipated Ukraine’s counteroffensive to begin sometime in the spring. On Monday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said “as of today, we are entering the home stretch, when we can say: ‘Yes, everything is ready,’” according to The Associated Press.
“Availability of weapons, prepared, trained people, our defenders and defenders who know their plan at their level, as well as providing this offensive with all the necessary things — shells, ammunition, fuel, protection, etc.” are the “key things” to the campaign’s success, he added, according to the AP.
The package is yet another tranche of aid aimed at shoring up Ukraine’s counteroffensive capabilities in the short term after a succession of announcements of equipment that will be procured from manufacturers and delivered over the longer term. It also includes trucks, spare parts and maintenance equipment, the statement said.
Ukraine has everything it needs from the U.S. and security partners to prosecute the counteroffensive, Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said in an interview with Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.
Thank you to @SecDef and the people of the United States for your unwavering support!
For more than 9 years, Ukraine has been fighting for its freedom and independence.
And the #UAarmy needs weapons and ammunition to liberate our land and people.
I’m grateful to our partners for… pic.twitter.com/zZfQREFlNo
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) May 3, 2023
Officials hope the weapons will support Ukraine’s shift to offensive operations after a long and bloody winter, where fighting has concentrated in part around the city of Bakhmut for months, the AP reported. Fighting persisted in a bloody stalemate throughout the winter, but the commander of the Ukrainian ground forces said Ukraine achieved successful counteroffensive moves pushing Russian forces out of some positions in the city, Reuters reported.
Russia’s defense minister urged the country’s defense industry to double ammunition output as quickly as possible, according to the AP.
On Tuesday, Russia launched 30 airstrikes, three missile strikes and eight multiple rocket launchers attacks, with Russia continuing to focus assaults on Ukraine’s industrialized eastern regions, according to the AP.
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