U.S. approves a new $300M package for Ukraine

Zelenskyy pushes for support at European leaders’ summit
Russian air campaign terrorizes citizens in Kyiv
Japan adopts new sanctions on Russia

Washington: President Joe Biden has approved a new package of military aid for Ukraine that totals up to $300 million and includes additional munitions for drones and an array of other weapons.

Including the latest aid, the U.S. has committed more than $37.6 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on Feb. 24, 2022. This latest package will be done under presidential drawdown authority, which allows the Pentagon to take weapons from its own stocks and quickly ship them to Ukraine, officials said.

The new aid package comes at a tense moment in the war as Russia has continued to pummel Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and unmanned aircraft have targeted Moscow. The latest drone attack on Moscow Tuesday follows Russia’s seizure of the eastern Ukrainian city Bakhmut after a nine-month battle that killed tens of thousands of people. Ukraine is also showing signs that its long-awaited spring counteroffensive may already be underway.

However, U.S. officials have said there is no suggestion that U.S.-made drones or munitions were used in the Moscow strikes, which the Kremlin blamed on Ukraine but Kyiv has not acknowledged. The Biden administration has said it has made clear to Ukraine that U.S.-made weapons should not be used for attacks inside Russian territory.

“We don’t tell them where to strike. We don’t tell them where not to strike…. Ultimately President Zelenskyy and his military commanders decide what they’re going to do from a military perspective,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. But he added that the U.S. has been ““very clear with the Ukrainians privately, we’ve certainly been clear publicly, that we do not support attacks inside Russia.”

He said Zelenskyy has given the U.S. assurances that the Ukrainians respect those concerns.

The new aid package provides munitions to boost Ukraine’s air defense capabilities to fend off Russia’s air assaults on Kyiv. It provides munitions for Patriot missile batteries and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), as well Avenger and Stinger air defense systems, mine-clearing equipment, anti-armor rounds, unguided Zuni aircraft rockets, night vision goggles, and about 30 million rounds of small arms ammunition and an undisclosed amount of other artillery rounds.

Russian officials say the West, which throughout the grinding war has sought to keep the conflict from expanding beyond Ukraine, has not adequately condemned the attack on Russian soil.

Image courtesy of AP

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