Washington (AFP) – The United States will send $3.75 billion in military weapons and other aid to Ukraine and its neighbors on NATO’s eastern flank, the White House. Friday announced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grind on.
The latest batch of aid will include for the first time Bradley Armored Vehicles for Ukraine. The armored personnel carrier is used to transport troops into combat and is known as the “tank killer” because of the anti-tank missile it can fire.
The largest US aid package to date for Kiev includes a $2.85 billion withdrawal of Pentagon stocks that will be sent directly to Ukraine and $225 million in foreign military financing to build long-term capabilities and support the modernization of the Ukrainian military, according to the White House. It also includes $682 million in foreign military financing for European allies to help return donations of military equipment they have made to Ukraine.
Announcing the aid, White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said, “The war is at a critical juncture and we must do everything we can to help Ukrainians resist Russian aggression.”
Direct aid to Ukraine includes 50 Bradleys, as well as 500 anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for the carriers. The United States is also sending 100 M113 armored personnel carriers, 55 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, or MRAPS, and 138 Humvees, as well as ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, air defense systems and other weapons, and thousands of artillery rounds, according to the Pentagon.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Bradleys would be particularly useful to Ukraine in the ongoing heavy fighting in the largely rural areas of eastern Ukraine.
“It’s very much related to the war we’re having on the ground right now and what we expect to see throughout the winter months,” Kirby said.
Critics have complained that the US has been too slow to provide major weapons like the Bradley and battle tanks like the Abrams, saying they could have helped in the fighting last year.
At the Pentagon, Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of state for Russia and Ukraine, said it was a good time to introduce Bradley. “The Ukrainians have shown a lot of increasing efficiency in maintenance and sustainability,” she said.
She added that the US-led training, which is set to begin later this month, will enable the troops to operate, maintain and repair weapons and that providing tanks, such as the Pentagon’s more complex, gas-guzzling M1 Abrams tank, will require more. maintenance. and other training.
The new US package has been detailed by the White House and the Pentagon as announced by Germany It will supply about 40 Marder armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in the first quarter of this year.
Germany announced its intention to send Marder APCs after a phone call between Chancellor Olaf Schultz And President Joe Biden Thursday.
“These 40 vehicles should be ready in the first quarter already so they can be delivered to Ukraine,” Scholz’s spokesman Steffen Heppistreit told reporters in Berlin. Germany plans to train Ukrainian forces to use the vehicles, and Hebbestreit said experts expect the process to take about eight weeks.
Germany has already provided significant military aid, including howitzers, the Gebbard anti-aircraft self-propelled gun and the IRIS-T surface-to-air missile system, with three more due to follow this year.
Scholz has long been wary of pressure to supply the Marder and other Western-made heavy vehicles such as tanks, insisting that Germany would not go it alone in such shipments. Officials noted that the other countries did not provide anything. But this week, FranceUnited State And Germany announced plans to send similar armored vehicles, which do not amount to the number of tanks.
Germany last year endorsed deals whereby eastern NATO allies sent familiar Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine, with Germany in turn supplying more modern Western equipment to those countries.
Hepstreet said there have been talks with the United States and others since mid-December about how to support Ukraine moving forward. He said the possibility of supplying Soviet-produced equipment was “slowly coming to an end”, while the situation in Ukraine was changing with massive Russian strikes on infrastructure and fighting that could increase as the weather warms.
Ukraine and a number of German lawmakers inside and outside Schultz’s ruling coalition have also called on Germany to hand over Leopard 2 combat tanks. Advocates of the Leopard delivery were encouraged by the movement on Marder APCs and vowed to keep pressing the point.
But Hepstreet said combat tanks were not an issue in Thursday’s call between Schultz and Biden. He said Germany would stick to its principles of supporting Ukraine as closely as possible, while not going it alone on arms supplies and making sure that NATO did not become a party to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Germany also said Thursday that it would follow the United States in providing Ukraine with a battery of Patriot air defense missiles. Hepstreet said that was at the request of the United States and is also expected in the first quarter.
It comes on top of the Patriot systems that Germany has sent or plans to send to Slovakia and Poland.
Associated Press reporters Sung Min Kim and Aamer Madani contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine