Pentagon Announces Additional $6 Billion in Military Aid for Ukraine

The United States will give Ukraine $6 billion to purchase military hardware directly from American defense companies, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III announced on Friday, expressing confidence that many of the weapons and munitions the country most needs will soon arrive.

“This is the largest security assistance package that we’ve committed to date,” Mr. Austin told reporters at the Pentagon. It will include air-defense missiles and artillery ammunition among other offensive and defensive weaponry, he said.

Mr. Austin and Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke after a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a consortium of approximately 50 nations that includes all NATO members, several of the United States’ major non-NATO allies and other countries that have provided military and humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

This was the 21st such monthly meeting of the group since it was formed two years ago at a U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, and the first to be held since President Biden signed a long-stalled foreign aid package that includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine.

Mr. Austin acknowledged that the time needed to build some of the weapons varied, depending on several factors.

“You can rest assured that we’re going to move as fast as we can to get them the capability as fast as industry can produce,” he said. “But we will move at the speed of industry.”

The $6 billion tranche of funds are part of the Pentagon’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which has already given Ukraine about $18.9 billion to arm itself with weapons directly from vendors in the United States since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

The new funds follow a $1 billion package of military aid announced on Wednesday that includes antiaircraft missiles, guided rockets for HIMARS launch vehicles and 155-millimeter artillery ammunition.

“The announcements this week underscore America’s enduring commitment to Ukraine’s defense,” Mr. Austin said. “Two years later, this contact group stands strong and this coalition stands together. And we will not falter, we will not flinch and we will not fail.”

The provision of both aid packages this week means that Ukraine will no longer need to ration ammunition, General Brown said, as its military has been forced to do since late last year when House Republican leadership began blocking legislation that would further authorize arms for the country.

“Ukraine is still fighting, it’s still holding its ground,” Mr. Austin said. “That’s quite remarkable, and it’s holding that ground even in the face of a question as to whether or not we’re going to continue to support them.”

“That question is off the table now,” he added.

Some of the new funds will go to building up Ukraine’s own defense industry so that it can produce more of the ammunition Kyiv needs in its war with Russia, according to Mr. Austin. Russia has increased its domestic arms production, he said, but has had to rely on weapons imports from North Korea and Iran to continue waging its war against Ukraine.

The two officials also addressed the U.S. military’s ongoing effort to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians through the installation of a temporary pier off Gaza, which has been under intense Israeli bombardment since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks in Israel.

“One of the areas that we’ve been focused on,” General Brown said, “is not only the security of the port itself, the security of our force, but also the security of the distribution and also of the aid workers.”

Pentagon officials have said that the military’s cargo transportation system will probably be in place later this month. On Wednesday, Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, acknowledged that mortar fire had recently landed near where the beachhead for the cargo shipments was being established in Gaza, but said no U.S. forces were on the ground and the attack had caused minimal damage.

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