Biden administration officials announced on Thursday billions of dollars in new weapons aimed at both helping Ukraine fight off Russia and assisting other Eastern European nations that may one day have to do the same.
The decisions were announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during a visit to Ukraine’s capital, and by Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who were in Germany attending a meeting of the so-called contact group of nations backing Ukraine’s war effort.
The officials described some $2.8 billion in U.S. weapons transfers to Eastern Europe, comprising $2.2 billion in authority to sell new U.S. weapons to 19 allies and partners facing down Russian threats as well as $675 million in drawdowns of arms from U.S. stockpiles specifically for Ukraine.
“We will support the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Blinken said in a statement.
Austin, meanwhile, announced plans for a meeting in the coming weeks of Western armaments directors to focus on ways to streamline weapons acquisitions, iron out supply chain glitches and ensure that equipment of different nations can operate in an integrated way on the battlefield.
“We’re here because we refuse to live in a world where big powers trample borders by force,” Austin said. “Every day, we see the resolve of the allies and partners worldwide who are helping Ukraine resist Russia’s illegal, imperial and indefensible war of conquest.”
He also said the coalition of countries backing Ukraine “needs to position itself to sustain Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul.”
Milley, for his part, said Ukraine is achieving “real and measurable gains” as it employs weapons delivered from other countries. “It is having a direct impact on the Russian ability to project and sustain combat power.”
Milley was careful not to minimize the perilous situation in Ukraine or the challenges that country’s forces still face.
“The war is not over,” he said. But he also noted, “So far Russian strategic objectives have been defeated.”
The bulk of the weapons package announced Thursday is $2.2 billion in foreign military financing for America’s Eastern European allies and partners to spend on U.S.-made military gear to deter and defend against real or potential Russian aggression.
Ukraine is eligible for the aid, as are 18 other countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In addition, the Biden administration announced that $675 million in U.S. weapons would be sent to Ukraine, bringing to more than $8.6 billion the total in U.S. arms moved to Ukraine to fight Russia.
The $675 million drawdown includes a host of different types of weapons.
A key element of the plan is additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which are mobile rocket launchers.
Milley said HIMARS rockets have been highly effective, hitting some 400 Russian targets with “devastating effects.”
Also included in the latest drawdown are four howitzers and thousands of artillery rounds for them.
The package also includes anti-armor mines and so-called high-speed anti-radiation missiles, or HARMs, which hone in on electronic emissions from an adversary’s surface-to-air missile launchers.
Also en route to Ukraine soon: 100 Humvees, 1.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition, 5,000 anti-armor systems, grenade launchers, small arms, armored medical treatment vehicles and night vision devices.
All told, the Biden administration has provided just over $15 billion for Ukraine, officials said. The Pentagon released a summary of the security assistance.