President Biden on Tuesday held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and detailed a new $625 million aid package for Ukraine, which includes more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), howitzers, and anti-tank mines.
According to the Pentagon, the new package includes:
- Four HIMARS and associated ammunition
- 16 155mm Howitzers
- 75,000 155mm artillery rounds
- 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds
- 1,000 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems
- 16 105mm Howitzers
- 30,000 120mm mortar rounds
- 200 MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles
- 200,000 rounds of small arms ammunition
- Obstacle emplacement equipment
- Claymore anti-personnel munitions
The new HIMARS will bring the total number of the rocket launchers sent to Ukraine to 20. Russia has said it’s destroyed some of the US-provided HIMARS in missile strikes, but it’s not clear how many as Ukraine usually denies such Russian claims.
The US recently pledged to give Ukraine another 18 HIMARS, but that is being done through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the US government to purchase weapons for Kyiv. Weapons delivered through this program could take several years as it involves the contracting process, and the arms might need to be manufactured.
The new $625 million package is being provided through the presidential drawdown authority, which allows Biden to send arms to Ukraine directly from US military stockpiles. A stopgap funding bill President Biden signed into law last week included $3.7 billion for this authority. It also included $12.3 billion for other military and economic aid for Ukraine, bringing total US spending on the war to about $67.5 billion, a number that’s higher than Russia’s entire military budget for 2021.
During his call with Zelensky, Biden said that the US is ready to “impose severe costs on any individual, entity, or country” that supports Russia’s annexation of Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory.
The HIMARS that the US is providing Ukraine are equipped with munitions that have a range of about 50 miles. But Ukraine wants longer-range missiles that can hit targets up to 190 miles away, known as Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS). But so far, the Biden administration has been hesitant to sign off on sending the ATACMS over fears they could be used to target Russian territory and lead to an escalation.
To ease those concerns, Ukraine is reportedly offering to give the US targeting control over its use of longer-range weapons by sharing lists of potential Russian targets and giving Washington veto power over the strikes. But so far, the US hasn’t agreed to send the ATACMS.