US Sending Another $1B in Long-Range Rocket Systems and Howitzers to Ukraine

The U.S. has now sent more than $40 billion in aid to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during the Ukraine Defence Contact group meeting ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, on June 15, 2022.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks during the Ukraine Defence Contact group meeting ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, on June 15, 2022. (Photo by YVES HERMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Secretary of Defense announced Ukraine is getting an additional $1 billion worth of weapons it needs to thwart advancing Russian forces in the eastern Donbas region.

“I'm especially pleased to be able to announce today that the United States will provide an additional $1 billion security assistance package for Ukraine,” said Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin III during the concluding statements of a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. That group consists of 50 national heads of defense departments convening to determine the latest in the war and to coordinate aid. “It includes guided [multiple long-range rocket systems (MLRS)], munitions, 18 more M777 howitzers and the types of vehicles that hold them, and 36,000 rounds of 155 millimeter ammunition.

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“Everyone here is acutely aware of the danger Ukraine faces from Russia’s relentless assault on the Donbas.” 

The security assistance, which also includes training programs for Ukrainian soldiers on those systems, brings the U.S. military aid to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government well north of $40 billion and makes Ukraine one of the most expensive militaries in Europe.

Austin was clear that these new weapons for Ukraine will be, "crucial to repel the Russian assault on the Donbas," and saluted a number of other nations making significant announcements today on new weapons aid to Ukraine. Canada will provide new artillery systems, Slovakia has given more helicopters and rocket munitions, and the U.K. and Germany pledged to help train Ukraine on MLRS capabilities. 

The Contact group, which first convened months ago while the war looked much different than the trench and artillery duels happening now in Donbas, knows that Ukraine was in dire need of long-range weapons that could strike Russian heavy guns that are positioned too far from Ukrainian forces to hit. 

Earlier weapons handed over to Ukraine included shoulder-fired hardware like Stinger anti-aircraft systems and anti-tank Javelin rockets—used to devastating effect by the much smaller Ukrainian resistance to halt and repel Russian forces. But since then the war has tactically shifted dramatically from scattered Russian units spread out across the country and assaulting the capital Kyiv, from paratroopers to massive tank deployments, to missile strikes as far west as Lviv.  

By all accounts, Kremlin forces learned from those mistakes and consolidated its war effort into Donbas using long-range attacks to blast Ukrainian towns like Severodonetsk from a distance, while incrementally deploying ground forces that consume ground by the day as supplies and logistics freely flow from western Russia into Russian-controlled Donbas. 

The fresh weapons transfer will be welcome news to Ukrainian forces that have struggled of late to stem the Russian advance into the eastern part of the country and led to fears the Kremlin might yet achieve its goal of dismantling Ukrainian statehood. In recent days, Ukraine has also admitted the war is costing the country dearly in manpower as 150 to200 soldiers are dying daily. Ukraine claims it is outgunned by Russian artillery 20-to-one

Some media at the conference questioned whether the security assistance is too little, too late, but Austin said he had direct discussions with the Ukrainian minister of defense, Oleksiy Reznikov, who told Austin he was thrilled at the announcement. 

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