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‘We need to move fast’: Pentagon sends Ukraine $1 billion in new aid

Just after President Joe Biden signed his long-sought national security supplemental, the Pentagon announced a new batch of security aid for Ukraine.

Valued at $1 billion, this package is the largest sent to Kyiv in almost half a year. It features a host of equipment, including air defense interceptors, armored vehicles, anti-tank weapons and artillery rounds — among which are cluster munitions.

“We need to move fast, and we are,” Biden said from the White House Wednesday.

In addition, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday the U.S. sent Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, earlier this year. Biden made the decision in February, and the missiles were included in a $300 million package gathered from savings on various weapons contracts in March.

The missiles arrived this month, kept secret “to maintain operational security for Ukraine at their request,” said Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Garron Garn. Kyiv had sought the missiles for more than a year, in part to push Russian forces farther back.

Aside from that package, the Pentagon hasn’t given Ukraine any aid since December, when it ran out of money to replace anything it sent. The administration requested a massive round of supplemental funding in the fall, but it sat mired in Congress until this week.

What forced it through was largely the dire situation in Ukraine. Earlier this month, head of U.S. European Command Gen. Chris Cavoli told lawmakers that Russia could fire five artillery rounds to every one Ukraine could return.

“That will immediately go to 10 to one in a matter of weeks,” Cavoli said.

Cavoli and Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said this month Russia has been able to rebuild its forces faster than the U.S. expected and even expanded its frontline forces to 470,000, or an army 15% larger than before the war.

The combination of Russia’s quick rebuilding and Ukraine’s dwindling stocks threatened a crisis on the front lines, one the supplemental is meant to avoid.

CIA Director Bill Burns warned this month Russia could win on the battlefield — or at least force a favorable political settlement — by the end of 2024 without U.S. funding.

This set of aid is far larger than even those sent late last year, when the Pentagon still had money to replenish its stocks. While waiting for Congress to act, Pentagon officials planned a ready-to-go package filled with Ukraine’s most pressing needs.

“This package will surge munitions, weapons, and equipment forward to support Ukraine’s ability to defend its frontlines, protect its cities, and counter Russia’s continued attacks,” read a Pentagon announcement.

The $95 billion supplemental bill includes around $48 billion in Ukraine-related funding for the Pentagon. Some $23 billion of that will go to replenishing stocks the U.S. sends to Kyiv.

“Regardless of what anyone says, we are gaining the support we need to continue protecting lives from Russian attacks,” Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday.

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