On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine in the war against Russia, including shipments of additional howitzers, ammunition, and coastal defence systems.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ahead of the announcement, which included the delivery of 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of howitzer ammunition, and two Harpoon coastal defence systems, according to the Pentagon.
“I informed President Zelensky that the United States is providing another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defence weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas,” Biden said in a statement following the call. “We also discussed Secretary Austin’s efforts in Brussels today to coordinate additional international support for the Ukrainian armed forces,” says the statement.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Brussels that the US and Ukraine are “working in lockstep to meet Ukraine’s requests for new capabilities, especially its need for long-range fires, armour and coastal defense.”
The latest weapons shipment arrives as Ukraine’s military depletes its stockpile of Soviet-era ammunition, and Ukrainian officials have pleaded with the West to supply more heavy weapons as the fight with Russia intensifies. The battle, according to Western intelligence and military experts, is at a critical stage that will determine the conflict’s long-term conclusion, while Russia has gained a major artillery advantage around two important cities in eastern Ukraine.
According to a statement from the Ukrainian president’s office, Zelensky praised Biden on Wednesday for his “constant, unflinching support” and for rallying international security.
“The security support from the United States is unprecedented. It brings us closer to a common victory over the Russian aggressor, “According to Zelensky.
Since Russia’s invasion in February, the US has contributed more than $5 billion in security support to Ukraine, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. The current shipment of weapons includes ammunition for HIMARS and tactical vehicles “to recover equipment,” as well as tens of thousands of secure radios, night vision devices, infrared sights, and “other optics,” according to the Pentagon.
The package is expected to include weapons and supplies that can be quickly shipped from existing US stockpiles, as well as new contracts for long-term supplies. The US will also provide $225 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to Biden, which will go toward “supplying safe drinking water, critical medical supplies and health care, food, shelter, and cash for families to purchase essential items.”
Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were in Brussels on Wednesday for a meeting with a working group of roughly 50 countries to discuss the crisis.
‘No weapons system is a silver bullet’
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the US has supplied a series of weapons shipments to Ukraine, expanding the capabilities provided to Ukraine’s military as the battle has progressed. Ukrainian officials, on the other hand, have been lobbying for more heavy weapons and have expressed dissatisfaction with the way ammunition are being delivered piecemeal.
Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said Tuesday that the country has only gotten 10% of the military supplies requested by Kyiv from the West.
“Whatever efforts we put, no matter how professional our army is, without the assistance of our Western partners Ukraine will not be able to win this war,” Mailar warned.
Milley pushed back on the notion that Ukraine wasn’t getting what it needed during a news conference on Wednesday, claiming he was in constant touch with his Ukrainian colleague.
“The speed that we have delivered security assistance is without comparison,” Milley said. “From the time the requests are validated and authorized, it is only a matter of days until the requirement is sourced, shipped and in the hands of the Ukrainians. In some cases, it may take a week, but most of the time, it’s measured in days.”
“In warfare, no weapons system is ever a silver bullet,” Milley added.
“So no weapons system, singular weapons system ever, quote unquote turns the balance,” Milley explained.
“They ought to be able to take out a significant amount of targets,” Milley said, if the Ukrainians employ the weapons systems provided by the US and other allies appropriately.
Russian control of eastern Ukraine not ‘an inevitability,’ Milley says
Despite Russian soldiers outnumbering and outgunning Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region, Milley stated that Russian control of eastern Ukraine was “not a done deal.”
“There are no inevitabilities in war. War takes many, many turns. So I wouldn’t say it’s an inevitability,” he said, before granting that “the numbers clearly favor the Russians.”
“The Ukrainians are fighting them street by street, house by house,” Milley said, adding that the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk has been “is probably three quarters taken or so by Russian forces.”
Milley also described the present phase of the conflict as a “very severe battle of attrition, almost World War I-like,” saying that Russian progress in the region has been “very slow, a very tough slog.”
“The Russians have run into a lot of problems. They’ve got command-and-control issues, logistics issues. They’ve got morale issues, leadership issues and a wide variety of other issues,” Milley said. “And the Russians have suffered tremendous amounts of casualties.”
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