Washington (Times Of Ocean)- US President Joe Biden announced another $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine following a phone call with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
During a phone call with Zelenskyy, Biden said the latest weapons package would include systems already deployed to the fight, as well as “new capabilities tailored to Russia’s expected expansion of its operations in eastern Ukraine.”
“These new capabilities include artillery systems, artillery rounds, and armored personnel carriers. I have also approved the transfer of additional helicopters. In addition, we continue to facilitate the transfer of significant capabilities from our allies and partners around the world,” Biden wrote in a statement announcing the additional arms package.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby provided an overview of the latest weapons package at a briefing at the Pentagon. Multiple conversations with the Ukrainians resulted in the list of weapons, he said.
In addition to 11 Mi-17 helicopters, Kirby said the package will include 18 howitzers and 40,000 artillery rounds, 500 Javelin missiles, 300 armored vehicles, and 300 Switchblade drones, all of which were previously earmarked for Afghanistan before the United States-backed government collapsed.
According to U.S. intelligence assessments, the Kremlin is likely to concentrate its military might in eastern and southern Ukraine after weeks of stalled advances on the Ukrainian capital.
A number of logistical issues have plagued Russian forces on the ground in Ukraine for seven weeks, including reports of fuel and food shortages, as well as frostbite.
On a conference call with reporters, a senior U.S. defense official said that Russia is preparing to launch a “new push” in the eastern part of Ukraine.
The Russian forces are still moving and active in Belarus and Russia. They are reassembling, staging, equipping, and materially supporting their forces,” the official said, adding that Russian helicopters and artillery are being staged for the operation.
Since Kremlin’s Feb. 24 invasion, the Biden administration has staffed more than 100,000 troops in NATO-member countries and approved $2.6 billion in security assistance. Washington also has provided Ukraine with a total of $3.2 billion since Biden took office, the White House said.
In addition, NATO has placed 140 warships and 130 aircraft on alert. At the same time, NATO has consistently warned Putin that an attack on a NATO member state will trigger Article 5, NATO’s cornerstone.
Since 2002, Ukraine has sought NATO membership. The country is bordered by Slovakia, Hungary, Romania as well as Poland – where the majority of the troops from the 30-member alliance are stationed. Poland has also served as a refugee destination for many refugees fleeing the conflict.
UN reports 1,932 civilian deaths and 2,589 injuries since Russia invaded its former neighbor, citing delayed reporting due to the armed conflict in Ukraine. The UNHCR adds that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, citing delayed reporting due to the armed conflict.