US sending more military aid to Ukraine

President Biden on Thursday announced the U.S. will send another $800 million in military aid to Ukraine to assist its ability to fight invading Russian forces. 

The latest package, intended to help stave off Russian advances in the Donbas Region in Eastern Ukraine, will include heavy artillery, dozens of howitzers, 144,000 rounds of ammunition to be used with the howitzers, and more tactical drones, Biden said.

The funding will also cover vehicles to tow howitzers and other field equipment, the Pentagon said.

The latest package comes a week after Biden announced another $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

A senior U.S. defense official told reporters this week that U.S. and European troops have been training Ukrainian forces on how to use howitzers, which weigh 10,000 pounds and can hit targets up to 30 kilometers, or 18 miles, away with 155 mm rounds. 

The Biden administration has provided billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine in the roughly two months since Russia launched a full invasion of the country. The funds have been used to provide anti-aircraft systems, anti-tank weapons, small arms, rounds of ammunition and other equipment to modernize Ukraine’s forces and allow it to fight off Russian forces.

Biden on Thursday credited the “fearless and skilled Ukrainian fighters” who have defied expectations in thwarting Russian advances and keeping control of major cities, including the capital of Kyiv.

Biden said the international response to get weapons to Ukraine, facilitated by the U.S., “is a significant reason why Ukraine is able to stop Russia from taking over their country so far.”

“Every American taxpayer, every member of our armed forces can be proud of the fact that our country’s generosity and the skill and service of our military helped arm and repel Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Biden said.

The president also announced a ban on Russian-affiliated ships docking in U.S. ports as part of an effort to further squeeze the Russian economy out of the international system.

“That means no ship, no ship that sails under the Russian flag or is owned or operated by a Russian interest will be allowed to dock in a United States port or access our shores,” Biden said. “None.”

U.S. officials have in recent weeks warned Russia may be refocusing its efforts in Ukraine on hitting the Donbas region in a bid to overwhelm Ukrainian forces there after initial assaults on Kyiv and other major cities stalled. Officials have warned the next phase of the fight could drag on for months or longer.

As part of ongoing aid efforts, the Treasury Department separately announced Thursday $500 million in funding to help Ukraine fund government salaries, pensions and other programs needed to keep operations afloat.

Prior to the announcement of new aid, Biden met in-person with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to discuss the latest developments in the war and the administration’s commitment to provide assistance.

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