The Joe Biden administration will send $725 million in more weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine, the White House announced on Friday. The arms shipment is expected to contain munitions, including more rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), and military vehicles but no new significant capabilities or counter air-defenses.
Russia’s wide scale bombings across the country have spurred NATO states to provide more weapons which will keep the war going. This brings the total U.S. military aid provided to Ukraine, since the war began, to $17.5 billion. So far, the US has pledged over $67 billion, in mostly military aid, to fund Ukraine during this war, that figure is greater than Russia’s entire 2021 military budget.
This is the first new arms package announced after Moscow began its major missile and air attacks against civilian infrastructure, including energy and communication systems. Moscow’s escalated air campaign came in response to increased Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, including the truck bombing of the Kerch bridge which killed three people. The bridge connects Crimea to Russia. Although the US is reluctant to send long range weapons to Ukraine over concerns they could be used to attack Russian territory, both the State Department and the Pentagon have signed off on the attacks against Crimea as well as Russia’s newly annexed territories.
The new aid falls under the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) which allows Biden to send weapons directly from US military stockpiles without Congressional approval. This is the second PDA shipment during the 2023 fiscal year, it comes from the stop-gap funding bill which authorized $3.7 billion for the PDA and approximately $16 billion in total aid for Ukraine.
Russia now holds approximately 20% of Ukraine and threatens to expand the war as a result of Washington’s provision of longer-range weapons to Kiev such as the HIMARS. The US has sent 16 HIMARS to Kiev and recently approved the provision of an additional 18 launchers.
The new weapons aid is "not expected to include material to defeat missile attacks like the ones seen over the last week, it was designed to bolster Ukraine’s ability to beat back Russia in the counter offensive that has yielded large territorial gains in recent weeks," an official told Reuters. The Biden administration recently said they would expedite the delivery of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS).
This announcement comes amid rising tensions over NATO’s proxy war and during a meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers. More arms shipments are being announced by European NATO members.
"The British government said last week it would provide missiles for advanced NASAM anti-aircraft systems that the Pentagon plans to send to Ukraine. Britain also is sending hundreds of drones and 18 howitzer artillery guns. Germany has sent the first of four promised IRIS-T air defense systems, France pledged more artillery, antiaircraft systems and missiles, the Netherlands said it would send missiles, and Canada is planning to send winter equipment, drone cameras and satellite communications," the Washington Post reported.
Biden has recently acknowledged that the war in Ukraine, escalated and prolonged by his policies, has brought the world close to nuclear "Armageddon." Turkey is attempting to arrange peace talks between the West and Russia. Moscow has publicly indicated interest, even entertaining talks between Putin and Biden, but both the White House and the State Department have dismissed the offers.
Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com, Counterpunch, and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96.