President Biden has announced Wednesday that the US will be giving another $1 billion in military aid for Ukraine following reports that show the country’s struggles to find an advantage over Russian artillery.

“I informed President Zelenskyy that the United States is providing another $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine,” Biden said. The $1 billion would include additional artillery, coastal defense weapons, and ammunition. The US will also send advanced rocket systems to improve information flow for the Ukrainian military. 

The President will also push for an addition of $225 million specifically for humanitarian assistance in Ukraine as the situation becomes even more extreme, with various areas of Ukraine having no access to clean drinking water, food, medical supplies, and shelter. This also includes cash for Ukrainian families to purchase their essential items. Since the Russian invasion started, around $914 million has now been sent to Ukraine as humanitarian assistance.

“We also remain committed to supporting the Ukrainian people whose lives have been ripped apart by this war,” he said. “The bravery, resilience, and determination of the Ukrainian people continues to inspire the world. And the United States, together with our allies and partners, will not waver in our commitment to the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom.”

The call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly lasted for 40 minutes, as both leaders discussed the scope of the 12th US military assistance package. 

Since Russia invaded Ukraine last Feb. 24, the US has been the major contributor to the country. To date, the US has sent over $5.6 billion in overall security assistance to Ukraine. There are also 100,000 US troops currently stationed in NATO countries in the case Russia attacks further west.

The US Provides Advanced Military Weaponry

The Pentagon confirmed that $350 million of the $1 billion covers a wide range of advanced weaponry from the US defense inventory while the  $650 million was allocated to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds. The weapons that will be sent to Ukraine include 18 155mm howitzers, 36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition, 18 vehicles to tow the 155mm howitzers, and ammunition for the HIMARS the US had sent to Ukraine along with four support vehicles to service and reload them, along with radios, night vision devices, and other equipment that may be purchased using the USAI funds, according to National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.

Furthermore, two vehicle-mounted launchers for the Harpoon anti-ship missiles will be procured using USAI funds. These coastal defense systems are expected to bolster Ukraine’s capability to face more Russian warships, at medium range, that is currently blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea ports., 

While this is good news for Ukraine, it can take months to integrate this new weaponry with its military operations. The Harpoons may not be available to Ukraine at least for several months since the Pentagon is still in the process of purchasingHarpoon launchers. Europe is also expected to contribute missiles to Ukraine. Once these have been delivered, Ukrainian troops will still have to be trained on how to use these Harpoon missiles for weeks outside Ukraine as they are not familiar with these systems.

Ukraine Seeks Expediency

A French-donated "Caesar" Howitzer in use by the Ukrainian forces somewhere in Donetsk (Ukraine News Live). Source:
A French-donated “Caesar” Howitzer in use by the Ukrainian forces somewhere in Donetsk (Ukraine News Live/Twitter)

Ukrainian government officials are communicating with world leaders about their need for faster transfer of weapons and additional support. Various military analysts highlight how crucial speed is when it comes to getting weapons to Ukraine in a timely manner.  Logistics is critical for Ukraine in preparing for Russian advances beyond Severodonetsk and other areas.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine report an average of 200 men dead daily as the fighting rages on in Eastern Ukraine, with the Russians having control of 80% of Severodonetsk. The shift to a war of attrition has had implications for both Russia and Ukraine, with  Ukraine’s experiencing a significant increase in daily losses.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar has stated that they have only received 10% of the military assistance requested from their Western allies, which hampers their ability to fight the Russians head-on. According to Malyar, the Ukrainian army fires 5,000 to 6,000 artillery rounds per day, while Russia can expend about 10 times that amount. She further expressed that no matter how much heart and effort their forces commit to the fight, without the help of Western allies and their weapons, they “will not be able to win this war.”

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have also expressed their support for Ukraine during the 3rd meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group including 50 defense ministers from around the world. They were joined by Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov. The purpose of the meeting was to create a course of action around the sourcing of weaponry from its allies.

“We can’t afford to let up, and we can’t lose steam,” Austin said. “We must intensify our shared commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense, and we must push ourselves even harder to ensure that Ukraine can defend itself, its citizens, and its territory,”

This comes after Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak  requested a faster transfer of heavy weaponry, including 1,000 155mm howitzers, 300 MLRS, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles, and 1,000 drones.

“Ukraine is under threat. They are at war, and we will continue to support them. But the rules-based international order is also under threat due to the actions of Russia in the Ukraine. The international community is not allowing this unambiguous act of aggression by Russia to go unanswered. To do so risks the world returning to an era when large, powerful countries can invade smaller countries at will,” Milley said.

Austin and Milley had also expressed that they understood Ukraine’s need for more heavy weapons urgently. However, they also stated that they are moving the weapons “as fast as we can.”

“I think the international community has done a pretty good job of providing that capability. But it’s never enough, Austin said. “And so we’re going to continue to work hard to move as much capability as we can as fast as we can.”