Biden marks Ukrainian Independence Day with nearly $3 billion in security assistance

FAN Editor

Ukrainian soldiers stand on their tank at the front line in the Donetsk region on August 19, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration announced approximately $3 billion in security assistance for Ukraine on Wednesday, Washington’s largest package since Russia’s full-scale invasion began six months ago.

The announcement of the upcoming military aid package, the 19th such installment, comes as Ukraine celebrates 31 years of its independence from the Soviet Union.

“The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they continue the fight to defend their sovereignty,” Biden said in a statement, acknowledging Ukraine’s Independence Day. He added that that approximately $2.98 billion “will allow Ukraine to acquire air defense systems, artillery systems and munitions, counter-unmanned aerial systems and radars to ensure it can continue to defend itself.”

The latest security assistance package is unlike presidential drawdown authorities which authorize the delivery of weapons directly from U.S. arsenals.

Wednesday’s package of nearly $3 billion is authorized through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, which uses funds appropriated by Congress. The USAI finances America’s defense industry to scale up arms production.

“This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional priority capabilities to Ukraine in the mid-and long-term to ensure Ukraine can continue to defend itself as an independent, sovereign and prosperous state,” wrote Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder in a statement.

The package consists of six additional National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, as well as munitions for those systems, 24 counter-artillery radars, 245,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery ammunition, 65,000 rounds of 120 mm mortar ammunition, laser-guided rocket systems, support equipment for the Scan Eagle drone as well as Puma drones.

A Boeing Co. ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sits on display at the Singapore Airshow held at the Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore, on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016.

SeongYoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

New to this security package is the counter-drone capability dubbed Vampire. It was not immediately clear how many the Pentagon would provide.

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told reporters at the Pentagon that USAI packages can typically take months or years to deliver depending on the defense contracting process.

“This package of capabilities is really aimed at getting Ukraine what they’re going to need in the medium to long term so it’s not relevant to the fight today, tomorrow or next week,” explained Kahl.

“It is relevant to the ability of Ukraine to defend itself and deter further aggression a year from now or two years from now,” he added.

Earlier this month, Biden announced a presidential drawdown authority of $9.8 billion for Ukraine, the biggest weapons installment to come directly from U.S. stockpiles. So far, the U.S. has committed more than $13.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.

Kahl said that the U.S. is far from ceasing its financial support for Ukraine.

“This package will certainly not be our last,” Kahl added.

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