BARCELONA — President Joe Biden today marked the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by announcing a new arms package worth nearly $3 billion — the largest single military aid package to date.
The $2.98 billion-dollar tranche, provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, also marks Ukraine’s independence day. Biden said in a statement the package “will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems, and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself over the long term.
“I know this independence day is bittersweet for many Ukrainians as thousands have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced from their homes, and so many others have fallen victim to Russian atrocities and attacks,” Biden continued. “But six months of relentless attacks have only strengthened Ukrainians’ pride in themselves, in their country, and in their thirty-one years of independence.”
With the new package, US aid to Ukraine jumps to nearly $13 billion, based on past Pentagon announcements. Biden’s statement does not spell out what specific equipment would be heading for Ukraine. In the past the US has supplied everything from thousands of Javelin anti-armor systems and artillery systems to electronic jamming equipment and the mysterious Ghost Phoenix drone. On Tuesday The Associated Press reported that the new package was aimed at helping Ukraine in the medium- and long-term, as opposed to the embattled nation’s immediate security needs, as well as to be a show of US resolve.
“The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty. […] Over the past six months, Ukrainians have inspired the world with their extraordinary courage and dedication to freedom,” Biden’ s statement said. “They have stood resolute and strong in the face of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine. And today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains — and will remain — a sovereign and independent nation.”
More information is expected to come on the package later in the day.
Other capabilities from other partners are also being announced to mark Ukraine’s independence day holiday. Boris Johnston, the outgoing prime minister of the United Kingdom, made a surprise visit to Kyiv, with a gift of a £54 million ($63.5 million) package of drones and loitering munitions. According to a statement from Downing Street, the package includes 850 Black Hornet micro-drones, hand-launched systems “specifically designed for use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces.
“Military personnel can be trained to fly the helicopter drones, which are smaller than a mobile phone, in under 20 minutes. Each drone feeds back live video and still images to allow forces on the ground to defend urban areas safely,” according to the news release. The UK has committed more than £2.3 billion in military and financial aid to Ukraine since the invasion began, per the announcement.