Artillery price

US plans artillery, rockets and ammunition in billion-dollar package for Ukraine

Tony Capaccio and Jennifer Jacobs/Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden has called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged an additional $1 billion in security assistance for the country as it seeks to push back Russian forces in combat zones from the east.

“I informed President Zelenskyy that the United States would provide an additional $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as munitions for artillery and advanced rocket systems that the Ukrainians need to support their defensive operations in the Donbas,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday.

The weapons package includes vehicle-mounted Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter. Denmark said it would supply the missiles. The US package also includes $320 million for secure radios and related equipment, $55 million for thermal night vision optics and $160 million for training, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Funding comes from two separate US programs or lines of authority. About $350 million of the $1 billion worth of weapons will come from existing U.S. stockpiles, including more 155mm howitzers and ammunition, more guided multiple-launch rocket systems and four M1089A1 recovery vehicles, according to a report. person familiar with the package.

The announcement comes as Ukrainian officials have pleaded for more advanced weapons to be delivered more quickly to repel incremental Russian advances to the east. Zelenskyy said the war could stagnate if deliveries from Ukraine’s allies do not speed up.

NATO Ministers meet in Brussels with the nearly 4 month war at the top of their agenda. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin opened a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group on Wednesday, pledging continued military support for Ukraine as the country faces a “pivotal moment” on the battlefield.

“We cannot underestimate the challenge Ukraine faces,” Austin said at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “Russia is using its long-range fire to try to overwhelm Ukrainian positions.”

Rep. Adam Smith, Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, praised U.S. efforts to arm Ukraine ahead of Biden’s announcement, but also said quantities of weapons and ammunition needed to be increased.

“I also think we need to deliver more sophisticated systems, especially when it comes to drones and long-range artillery,” Smith said Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast, adding that he thought the United States had been “too cautious”. ” so far.

The United States has steadily beefed up its support for Ukraine while pushing back on questions about how long the aid flow will last and whether it would back any deal that Ukraine cedes territory to Russia.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the conflict is driving sharp increases in gas and food prices, a bitter political wind for Biden ahead of midterm elections this fall.

“When we decided we were going to help Ukraine, what I meant was that it will cost us too,” Biden said at a June 10 fundraiser.