WASHINGTON: The United States will send $1.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine as part of a massive package that will include a Patriot missile battery and precision-guided bombs for its planes for the first time. fight, U.S. officials said Tuesday, as the Biden administration prepares to host Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington.
US officials described details of the aid on condition of anonymity because it has not yet been announced. The aid signals an expansion by the United States of the types of advanced weapons it will send to Ukraine to bolster the country’s air defenses against what has been a growing barrage of Russian missile strikes.
The package, which was to be announced on Wednesday, will include about $1 billion in weapons from Pentagon stockpiles and an additional $800 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds weapons, ammunition, training and other assistance, officials said.
Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have pressed Western leaders to provide more advanced weapons, including the Patriots, to help their country in its war against Russia. The Patriot is believed to be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has provided to Ukraine to help fend off Russian air attacks. The timing of the military aid announcement – as Zelenskyy makes his first trip outside Ukraine since the war began – sends a strong message of continued US support for Ukraine as the war s eternalizes.
The aid comes as Congress is set to approve an additional $44.9 billion in aid for Ukraine as part of a massive spending bill. This would ensure that US support continues into next year and beyond as Republicans take control of the House in January. Some GOP lawmakers have expressed distrust of the aid.
During the quick trip, Zelenskyy is expected to meet Biden at the White House, answer questions from the press and deliver a speech to Congress. White House officials said the visit, which will take place 10 months after the Russian invasion, aims to underscore Biden’s message that the United States will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes to repel the Russian forces.
Biden and Zelenskyy raised the possibility of the visit during their Dec. 11 call, and the White House officially extended the invitation three days later.
The decision to send the Patriot battery comes despite threats from the Russian Foreign Ministry that the delivery of the advanced surface-to-air missile system would be seen as a provocation and that the Patriot and any accompanying crews would be a target legitimate for the army of Moscow. .
But the White House rejects the idea that the delivery of the Patriot amounts to an escalation of American involvement on behalf of Ukraine. A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said Biden had made it clear that his administration would “lean forward” to support Ukraine, but was “not looking to engage in direct war with Russia”.
It’s unclear exactly when the Patriot will arrive on the front lines in Ukraine, as US troops will need to train Ukrainian forces in the use of the high-tech system. The training could take several weeks and is expected to take place at the Grafenwoehr training area in Germany. To date, all training of Ukrainian forces by the United States and the West has taken place in European countries.
The package will also include an undisclosed number of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, kits, officials said. The kits will be used to modify massive bombs by adding tail fins and precision navigation systems so that instead of just being dropped from a fighter jet onto a target, they can be dropped and guided to a target. target.
US fighters and bombers use JDAMs, and the Pentagon is working to modify them so they can be used by Ukraine.
So far, the United States has been reluctant to supply Ukraine with American fighter jets. Russia has warned that the advanced aircraft would be seen as provocative, and the United States has so far said other weapons would be better suited, citing the heavy maintenance and training needs of such fighters.
So, instead of supplying Ukraine with these American jets, the Pentagon is helping Kyiv find innovative ways to upgrade its fleet with the same capabilities as an American fighter jet.
The aid package will also include an undisclosed number of rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, thousands of artillery and mortar shells, trucks and HARM air-to-ground anti-radiation missiles.
Urgent pleas from Ukrainian leaders and the devastating destruction of the country’s civilian infrastructure, including the loss of electricity and heat during the winter, have finally overcome U.S. reservations about supplying the Patriots, officials say. .
White House and Pentagon leaders have consistently said providing Ukraine with additional air defenses is a priority, and Patriot missiles have been under consideration for some time. Officials said that as winter approached and Russian bombardment of civilian infrastructure intensified, this consideration took on increasing priority.
US officials had been reluctant to supply the Patriots to Ukraine because it could be seen as an escalation that would trigger a response from Moscow. Additionally, there were concerns about the extensive training that would be required and questions about whether US troops would have been needed to operate it. Biden flatly rejected sending US combat troops to Ukraine.
A Patriot battery regularly includes up to eight launchers, each of which can hold four missiles. It is said to come from Pentagon training stocks in the United States.
The entire system, which includes a phased array radar, control station, computers and generators, typically requires around 90 soldiers to operate and maintain. However, only three soldiers are needed to fire it, according to the military.

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