Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to Kyiv on Monday, where he announced a new $100 million weapons package for Ukraine and insisted the US would provide long-term support for the war against Russia despite growing signs to the contrary.
“I announced today another $100 million drawdown using Presidential Drawdown Authority to provide additional artillery munitions, additional interceptors for air defense and a number of anti-tank weapons as well,” Austin told reporters.
The Presidential Drawdown Authority allows the US to ship weapons to Ukraine directly from Pentagon stockpiles. The US has about $5 billion left in PDA to arm Ukraine, which became available due to a Pentagon “accounting error” that overvalued previous arms shipments.
All other types of assistance for Ukraine have dried up, and Congress has yet to authorize President Biden’s request for an additional $61 billion to fund the war for another year. Many members of Congress are now more focused on ensuring more military aid is sent to Israel to support its campaign in Gaza. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he’s seen a “decrease” in US artillery shell shipments since the outbreak of the Gaza war.
Despite the uncertainty about US support for Ukraine, Austin told Zelensky that it would continue. “The message that I bring you today, Mr. President, is that the United States of America is with you. We will remain with you for the long haul,” he said.
In a statement on the new $100 million arms package, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Congress to authorize more spending for the war. “It is critical for Congress to take action to support Ukraine by passing the President’s supplemental funding request,” Blinken said.
According to the Pentagon, the new arms package includes the following:
- Stinger anti-aircraft missiles
- One High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and additional ammunition
- 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds
- Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles
- Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems
- More than 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition
- Demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing
- Cold weather gear
- Spare parts, maintenance, and other ancillary equipment