Zelensky Thanks US for Over $3 Billion Arms Package, Calls It an ‘Awesome Christmas Present’

The US also announced $682 million in aid for its European allies to 'backfill' weapons that have been sent to Ukraine

The US on Friday pledged a new $3.075 billion weapons package for Ukraine that includes Bradley Fighting Vehicles for the first time, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called an “awesome Christmas present” as it was announced on the eve of Orthodox Christmas.

The aid marks the single largest arms package the US has pledged to Ukraine at one time since Russia’s invasion. On Twitter, Zelensky thanked President Biden for the “all-time defense package” and said it was an “awesome Christmas present” for Ukraine that would bring a “common victory” for the US and Ukraine.

The $3.075 billion includes $2.85 billion in presidential drawdown authority, which allows Biden to send Ukraine weapons directly from US military stockpiles. Ukraine will also receive $225 million under the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides foreign governments with funds to purchase US-made military equipment.

Also on Friday, the State Department announced $682 million in FMF for European countries to “help incentivize and backfill donations of military equipment to Ukraine.” The money for Ukraine and Ukraine-related aid is being pulled from funds that Congress has already authorized to spend on the war, which at this point is about $112 billion.

A Pentagon press release detailed the weapons included in the $2.85 billion presidential drawdown for Ukraine:

  • 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles with 500 TOW anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of 25mm ammunition
  • 100 M113 Armored Personnel Carriers
  • 55 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPs)
  • 138 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs)
  • 18 155mm self-propelled Howitzers and 18 ammunition support vehicles
  • 70,000 155mm artillery rounds
  • 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds
  • 1,200 155mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems
  • 36 105mm towed Howitzers and 95,000 105mm artillery rounds
  • 10,000 120mm mortar rounds
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • RIM-7 missiles for air defense
  • 4,000 Zuni aircraft rockets
  • Approximately 2,000 anti-armor rockets
  • Sniper rifles, machine guns, and ammunition for grenade launchers and small arms
  • Claymore anti-personnel munitions
  • Night vision devices and optics
  • Spare parts and other field equipment

Providing Bradley Fighting Vehicles marks a significant escalation in US military aid. The vehicles are designed to transport infantry troops with armored protection and are armed with a 25mm gun. Germany and France have pledged similar armored vehicles, but Ukraine has still not received the head Western-made tanks that it seeks.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.