U.S. to give Ukraine more rocket launchers, Biden tells Zelenskiy

U.S. to give Ukraine more rocket launchers, Biden tells Zelenskiy By Reuters

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(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. and Ukrainian flags are pictured prior to the start of the UUkraine Defense Consultative Group meeting hosted by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, at U.S. Airbase in Ramstein, Germany, April

By Nandita Bose and Mike Stone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday that Washington will provide Kyiv with $625 million in new security assistance, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, the White House said.

Biden was joined in the call by Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House said in a statement. The president underscored that Washington will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory, it added.

Biden “pledged to continue supporting Ukraine as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” the statement said.

This package is the first aid package since Russia’s most recent declared annexation of Ukrainian territory and the second Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) since Ukraine made large battlefield gains in mid-September.

Russia’s declared annexations last week followed what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

The State Department said in a release the package includes four HIMARS launchers and associated rockets, 32 Howitzers with 75,000 rounds of ammunition, 200 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and Claymore anti-personnel mines.

Made by Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE:LMT), the HIMARS launchers’ accuracy and longer range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia’s artillery advantage.

“Recent developments from Russia’s sham referenda and attempted annexation to new revelations of brutality against civilians in Ukrainian territory formerly controlled by Russia only strengthens our resolve,” the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Last week, the United States unveiled a $1.1 billion arms package for Ukraine, which included 18 HIMARS launcher systems, accompanying munitions, various types of counter drone systems and radar systems.

But last week’s aid package was funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) meaning the government has to procure the weapons from industry, rather than pulling them from existing U.S. weapons stocks.

The United States has now pledged 20 HIMARS launchers to Ukraine using PDA.

This announcement would mark more than $16.8 billion worth of U.S. security assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

U.S. to give Ukraine more rocket launchers, Biden tells Zelenskiy

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