New $300M US Aid Package for Ukraine 05/31 06:09
A U.S. military aid package for Ukraine that is expected to be announced
this week will total up to $300 million and will include additional munitions
for drones, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The drone ammunition comes after new
attacks by unmanned aircraft targeted Moscow.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. military aid package for Ukraine that is expected
to be announced this week will total up to $300 million and will include
additional munitions for drones, U.S. officials said Tuesday. The drone
ammunition comes after new attacks by unmanned aircraft targeted Moscow.
There has been no suggestion that U.S.-made drones or munitions were used in
the recent attacks on Moscow, and U.S. officials have repeatedly said that
Ukraine has agreed not to use any American-provided weapons for attacks on
Russian soil. The Kremlin blamed Kyiv for Tuesday's attack, but Ukrainian
officials had no direct comment.
But the new aid package comes at a tense moment in the war. The latest drone
attack on Moscow 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
The Russian Defense Ministry said five drones were shot down in Moscow and
the systems of three others were jammed, causing them to veer off course.
President Vladimir Putin called it a "terrorist" act by Kyiv.
A U.S. defense official said the drone strikes would not affect the weapons
aid packages the U.S. is providing Ukraine, to include drone ammunition. The
official said the U.S. has committed to supporting Ukraine in its effort to
defend the country and Ukraine had committed to not using the systems inside
Russia, so the aid would likely continue unchanged.
All of the U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the
latest aid package has not yet been publicly announced.
U.S. officials did not provide details on the drone munitions in the new aid
package or specify which unmanned aircraft would use them. The Defense
Department has given Ukraine a variety of unmanned aircraft over the last year,
for both surveillance and attacks, including at least two versions of the
Switchblade, a so-called kamikaze drone that can loiter in the air and then
explode into a target.
Other more sophisticated drones can drop munitions, but the U.S. has been
reluctant to publicly share details about those.
Also included in the newest package will be munitions for Patriot missile
batteries and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Stinger
missiles for the Avenger system, mine-clearing equipment, anti-armor rounds,
unguided Zuni aircraft rockets, night vision goggles, and about 30 million
rounds of small arms ammunition, said the U.S. officials.
The aid greatly resembles other recent U.S. packages, which have focused on
providing Ukraine more ammunition for the weapons systems it has and helping it
prepare for a counteroffensive to push back against Russian gains over the past
year. Ukrainian officials have not formally announced the launch of their
much-anticipated counteroffensive, although some say it has already begun and
the pace of attacks suggests that it's underway.
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.
Officials said the U.S. is expected to announce the aid as soon as Wednesday.
Tuesday's strikes on Moscow were the second drone strikes on the city since
May 3, when Russian officials said two drones targeted the Kremlin in what they
portrayed as an attempt on Putin's life. Ukraine denied it was behind that
U.S. intelligence officials were still trying to ascertain if Ukraine had
any involvement in or prior knowledge of Tuesday's drone attack in Moscow,
according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to
comment and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Last week, the Russian border region of Belgorod was the target of one of
the most serious cross-border raids since the war began, with two far-right
pro-Ukrainian paramilitary groups claiming responsibility.
The U.S. conveyed after that incident that American-made weaponry must not
be used inside Russia, according to a U.S. official familiar with the sensitive
communications. The message was "very clearly understood," according to the
Officials in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, near annexed Crimea,
said two drones struck there on Friday, damaging residential buildings. Other
drones have reportedly flown deep into Russia multiple times.
Ukrainian military analysts, though unable to confirm Kyiv had launched the
drones against Moscow, said the attack may have involved UJ-22 drones, which
are produced in Ukraine and have a maximum range of about 1,000 kilometers (620
U.S. officials struck a delicate balance in responding to the drone strikes,
reiterating support for Ukraine while stressing that the U.S. opposes
Ukrainians using American weapons in Russia. They noted that Russia's
bombardment of Kyiv on Tuesday was the 17th round of attacks this month, "many
of which have devastated civilian areas."