US to send new $225 million military aid package to Ukraine, officials say

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will send about $225 million in military aid to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Thursday, in a new package that includes ammunition Kyiv’s forces could use to strike threats inside Russia to defend the city of Kharkiv from a heavy Russian assault.

The officials said the aid includes munitions for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, as well as mortar systems and an array of artillery rounds. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aid not yet publicly announced.

Under a new U.S. directive, Ukraine can use such weapons to strike across the border into Russia if forces there are attacking or preparing to attack. That change, however, does not alter U.S. policy that directs Ukraine not to use American-provided ATACMS or long-range missiles and other munitions to strike offensively inside Russia, according to U.S. officials.

The new aid package comes as President Joe Biden used his speech Thursday at the American cemetery in Normandy on the 80th anniversary of D-Day to vow that the U.S. “will not walk away” from the defense of Ukraine and allow Russia to threaten more of Europe. To do so, he said, would mean the U.S. has forgotten “what happened here on these hallowed beaches.”

Biden is expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Paris on Friday.

On Wednesday, a Western official and a U.S. senator said Ukraine has used U.S. weapons to strike inside Russia. And a June 3 report from the Institute for the Study of War suggests that Ukrainian forces used a HIMARS system to strike a Russian S-300/400 air defense battery in the Belgorod region in recent days.

The new aid package is being provided through presidential drawdown authority, which pulls systems and munitions from existing U.S. stockpiles so they can go quickly to the war front.

Officials said the aid package also includes missiles for the HAWK air defense system, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems, 155mm Howitzers, armored vehicles, trailers, patrol boats, demolition materials and a wide range of other spare parts and equipment.

Ukrainian officials have pressed the U.S. to allow Kyiv’s forces to defend themselves against attacks originating from Russian territory. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, sits just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Russian border and has come under intensified Russian attack.

In response to NATO allies allowing Ukraine to use their arms to attack Russian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that Russia could provide long-range weapons to others to strike Western targets.

The additional HIMARS munitions are part of a U.S. effort to beef up Ukraine’s use of the key weapons. The State Department last month approved a proposed emergency sale of HIMARS systems to Ukraine for an estimated $30 million. State said Ukraine has asked to buy three of the rocket systems, which would be funded by the government of Germany.





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