July 19, 2024

Shipments of American weapons could begin flowing to Ukraine again soon after House approval of a long-stalled aid package, U.S. officials say, with goods from the Pentagon’s stockpiles in Germany shipped quickly by rail to the Ukrainian border.

The measure would provide the Ukraine war effort with about $60 billion. A sizable amount is set aside to replenish U.S. defense stockpiles, and billions more would be used to purchase U.S. defense systems, which Ukrainian officials say are badly needed.

The Senate was expected to pass the legislation, and President Biden has said he would sign it into law.

For months, Ukrainian military officials have complained that political paralysis in the U.S. Congress had created critical munitions shortages in the war against Russia. Ukrainian troops on the front lines have had to ration shells, and morale has suffered.

U.S. officials have not explicitly said which weapons the United States will send to Kyiv as part of the package, but Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters on Thursday that more air-defense and artillery ammunition would probably be included.

“We have a very robust logistics network that enables us to move matériel very quickly as we’ve done in the past,” General Ryder said.

“We can move within days,” he added.

Transfers from the United States by cargo aircraft and maritime vessels are typically arranged by the headquarters of U.S. Transportation Command, in rural Illinois, which maintains extensive databases of cargo ports, railways and roads that can be used by military and civilian transport craft around the world.

Weapons and ammunition sent to Ukraine are often drawn from Pentagon assets in Europe, with shipments coordinated by an organization created in late 2022 called the Security Assistance Group-Ukraine, which is based in Germany and operates within the Pentagon’s European Command. It has a staff of about 300 people.

Military leaders have sent Ukraine 55 aid packages of weapons called PDAs — for presidential drawdown authority — containing a mix of vehicles, ammunition, drones and other items worth at least $26.3 billion since August 2021.

The aid packages, which often came twice a month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, slowed significantly last fall as some Republicans have become bitterly opposed to sending more aid to the country.

The last aid package, announced on March 12, included Stinger antiaircraft missiles, guided rockets for HIMARS launch vehicles, small anti-tank rockets and 155-millimeter artillery ammunition that included cluster munition rounds.

General Ryder was asked about a nonbinding measure in the House legislation to send Kyiv weapons called ATACMS, which have been the Pentagon’s longest-range ground-launched guided missiles since the late 1980s.

The Biden administration agreed to provide a small number of those missiles last year, and Ukrainian forces used them to strike two air bases in Russian-occupied territory in October. Ukraine’s special operations forces said the attack damaged runways and destroyed nine Russian helicopters among other targets.

“Of course as you know, we’ve always said nothing is off the table,” the general said of potential new provisions of ATACMS. “But I don’t have anything to announce today.”

The United States has a limited number of these weapons, and officials have said that the rest of their ATACMS arsenal is reserved for contingency plans should the United States fight a war with Russia, North Korea or China.

Officials have also signaled that additional ATACMS could be provided to Ukraine as soon as the weapons’ replacements, called Precision Strike Missiles, begin to enter the Pentagon’s inventory.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of both missiles, said the company delivered the first four operational Precision Strike Missiles to the U.S. Army last year. A $220 million contract signed in March will provide the U.S. Army with more, though it was not immediately apparent how many that would buy.

The exact number of weapons the Pentagon has sent to Kyiv from its stockpiles is also unclear.

The last time the Defense Department updated the number of 155-millimeter artillery shells it had provided to Ukraine was in May, when it said that more than 2 million such projectiles had been sent so far. Each of the 17 aid packages announced for Ukraine since then have included 155-millimeter ammunition.

But sending more weapons to Ukraine depends on more than political will. The United States also has had to accelerate the production of the munitions Ukraine most needs to meet its demand.

In the United States, making artillery ammunition takes several weeks, as heavy steel bars are forged into empty projectiles in Scranton, Pa., then shipped to rural Iowa, where they are filled with explosives and prepared for delivery.

General Dynamics, which operates the Pennsylvania factory, is opening a new factory to make metal shell bodies outside Dallas to help increase total numbers of completed shells. The Army says it makes about 30,000 of the high-explosive shells each month, up from about 14,000 per month before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Army’s goal is to produce 100,000 155-millimeter artillery projectiles per month by 2025.

The United States is not alone in providing military aid to Kyiv.

Since April 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has convened meetings of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group roughly every month. The participants have included NATO nations, several of the United States’ major non-NATO allies and at least two South American nations that previously purchased arms from the Soviet Union and Russia.

The group solicits requests directly from Ukrainian military and civilian leadership.

After a virtual meeting of NATO defense ministers on Friday, Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary general, said Germany would deliver an additional Patriot air-defense missile system to Ukraine along with about $4.3 billion in military support from the Netherlands among other aid from NATO members.

“Ukraine is using the weapons we provide to destroy Russian combat capabilities,” Mr. Stoltenberg said in a statement. “This makes us all safer.”

“So support to Ukraine is not charity,” he added. “It is an investment in our security.”

Robert Jimison and Helene Cooper contributed reporting.

#Billion #Ukraine #War #Aid #Buy

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *