President Joe Biden announced a new $1 billion infusion of arms for Ukraine on Wednesday, including anti-ship missile systems, artillery rockets, howitzers, and ammunition.
Biden claimed he alerted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy about the new weaponry during a phone contact with him.
“I informed President Zelenskiy that the United States is providing Ukraine with another $1 billion in security assistance, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems,” Biden said in a statement following the 41-minute call.
The president also announced an additional $225 million in humanitarian assistance to help people in Ukraine, including by supplying safe drinking water, critical medical supplies and healthcare, food, shelter, and cash for families to purchase essential items.
The latest weapons packages for Ukraine include 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of ammunition for them, two Harpoon coastal defense systems, artillery rockets, secure radios, thousands of night vision devices and funding for training, the Pentagon said.
The aid packages, which come as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is meeting with allies in Brussels, were split into two categories: transfer of excess defense articles from U.S. stocks and other weapons being funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), a separate congressionally authorized program.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Wednesday accused Western countries of “fighting a proxy war with Russia,” telling reporters: “I would like to say to the Western countries supplying weaponry to Ukraine – the blood of civilians is on your hands.”
Ukraine is pressing the United States and other Western nations for speedy deliveries of weapons in the face of increased pressure from Russian forces in the eastern Donbass region.
Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, told reporters at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund: “We need all these weapons to be concentrated in a moment to defeat the Russians, not just keep coming every two or three weeks.”
In May, the Biden administration announced a plan to give Ukraine M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems after receiving assurances from Kyiv that it would not use them to hit targets inside Russian territory. Biden imposed the condition to try to avoid escalating the Ukraine war.
The rocket artillery in this aid package would have the same range as previous U.S. rocket shipments and is funded using Presidential Drawdown Authority, or PDA, in which the president can authorize the transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks without congressional approval in response to an emergency, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
For the first time, the United States is sending ground-based Harpoon launchers. In May, Reuters reported the U.S. was working on potential solutions that included pulling a launcher off of a U.S. ship to help provide Harpoon missile launch capability to Ukraine.
Harpoons made by Boeing Co cost about $1.5 million per missile, according to experts and industry executives.