White House announces $300 million military aid package for besieged Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday announced a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine, as Russian forces make battlefield gains and a much larger aid proposal for ammunition and armor remains stuck in Congress.

The White House’s package announced Tuesday will include ammunition, anti-aircraft missiles and armor-piercing weapons, according to senior Defense officials who were not authorized to speak publicly.

“The people of Ukraine have remained unflinching against an adversary bent on their destruction,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said. But, “they need our continued support and they needed it urgently.”

The White House and Pentagon have been warning that Ukraine’s defenses are weakening under sustained Russian pressure. The last supplemental aid package for Ukraine was approved in Dec. 2022. Since Russia invaded in Feb. 2022, the Pentagon has provided about $30 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

The main way of providing aid has been through transferring billions worth of equipment and ammunition from existing Pentagon stocks. Congress has approved funding outside the normal Defense Department budget, in supplemental spending, to buy replacements. That supplemental money has run out. However, lower-than-expected spending on replacement equipment has allowed the Pentagon to fund the $300 million package announced Tuesday, the officials said.

There is an imperative to act now because Ukrainian forces are running out of ammunition, the Defense officials said. Ukraine recently retreated from the eastern city eastern of Avdiivka under heavy Russian shelling.

Sullivan said Ukraine desperately needs the latest assistance to hold the line against Russian attacks and to push back against Russia’s ongoing onslaught.

“This ammunition will keep Ukraine’s guns firing for a period,” he said, “but only a short period. It is nowhere near enough to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs, and it will not prevent Ukraine from running out of ammunition in the weeks to come.”

The House should pass the larger bipartisan package that is stuck in Congress, Sullivan said. The Senate has already passed the legislation, but House Republicans are refusing to put it to a vote after former President Donald Trump raised objections to the package.

The aid, which can be on the battlefield in a matter of days, includes 155mm artillery shells and rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Defense officials said. HIMARS rockets can strike targets 40 miles away with great accuracy.

In Ukraine, Russia has made “continual incremental battlefield gains since late 2023,” according to the annual threat assessment by the Director of National Intelligence. Russia benefits from “uncertainties about the future of Western military assistance.”

Those advances have come at great cost, according to the assessment. About 300,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded in the fighting, and its military has lost thousands of tanks and armored vehicles.

“The clock is ticking,” Sullivan said, “and we need to see action as rapidly as possible.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: White House to send $300 million in military aid to Ukraine

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