US announces $625 million military aid to Ukraine, Russia warns of risks | Russo-Ukrainian War

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The latest weapons package, including four more HIMARS rocket launchers, arrives as the Ukrainian military continues its advance.

The United States is sending Ukraine $625 million in additional weaponry, including High Mobility Artillery System (HIMARS) launchers, in a move Russia says risks escalating the war.

US President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday as Ukraine continues its offensive in the south and east of the country to liberate areas occupied by Russia after its February 24 invasion.

Zelenskyy said his forces were making “quick and powerful” gains and recapturing “dozens” of villages on both battlefronts.

Biden, who was joined in the call by Vice President Kamala Harris, stressed Washington’s continued support for Kyiv.

Biden “is committed to continuing to support Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” a White House statement said.

The military package is the first since Russia announced it was formally annexing four occupied areas of Ukraine following a series of hastily staged referendums that have been condemned as coercive and in violation of international law.

The White House said the weapons – to be drawn immediately from existing US military stockpiles – would include four more HIMARS precision rocket launchers, 32 howitzers with 75,000 rounds of ammunition, 200 mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles and Claymore anti-personnel mines. .

“Recent developments in Russia’s sham referendums and attempted annexation to further revelations of brutality against civilians in formerly Russian-controlled territory of Ukraine only strengthens our resolve,” the US Secretary of State said. Antony Blinken in a statement.

The advanced weaponry aided Ukraine in its effort to repel Russian troops in a swift offensive that began in early September and quickly secured control of the Kharkiv region from Russia.

Ukraine is now trying to make further inroads in the south and east before the cold weather sets in and Russia may deploy the 300,000 reservists called up in an unpopular partial mobilization two weeks ago.

“This package will provide Ukraine’s armed forces with the additional capabilities and ammunition they need to maintain their momentum east and south,” said Laura Cooper, the Pentagon’s senior Russia and Ukraine official.

“We are looking very closely at their ammo consumption rates, to make sure they have what they need for the counteroffensive,” she said.

The US decision to send more military aid drew criticism from Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, who warned of the potential consequences.

“We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country,” Antonov said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

“The supply of military products by the United States and its allies not only leads to prolonged bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military confrontation between Russia and Western countries.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a series of thinly veiled threats over the use of nuclear weapons in recent weeks for Russian homeland defense.

Last week, the United States unveiled a $1.1 billion weapons package for Ukraine, which included 18 HIMARS launch systems, accompanying munitions, various types of counter-drone systems and radar systems.

This package was funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), meaning the government must source the weapons from industry, rather than taking them from existing stockpiles.

The latest announcement means the United States has provided more than $16.8 billion in security assistance since the war began.

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