Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced an additional $675 million in security assistance to Ukraine during a meeting of allies and partners at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on September 8. It’s the 20e decline in US stocks since August 2021.
Austin made the announcement following the fifth meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group, which first met in Ramstein in April. Since then, the United States has committed an additional $6.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.
The latest batch of security assistance to Ukraine includes:
At a news conference from Germany on Sept. 8, Austin, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said Ukraine was showing demonstrable battlefield success. through arms donations.
“We are seeing real, measurable gains from Ukraine and the use of these systems,” Milley said.
The first batch of M777 155mm howitzers was delivered to Ukraine in April. Since then, the United States has delivered 126 M777s and nearly 500,000 rounds of ammunition. Ukraine hit more than 400 targets with HIMARS loaded with Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) shells, Milley said.
“It had a devastating effect,” Milley said. “Russian lines of communication and supply channels are strained. This has a direct impact on Russia’s ability to project and sustain combat power. Russian command and control at headquarters has been disrupted and they are having great difficulty resupplying their forces and replacing their combat losses.
News of the latest Withdrawal Agreement was delivered directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who made a surprise visit to Kyiv on September 8.
“Ukraine’s extraordinary frontline defenders continue to bravely fight for their country’s freedom, and President Biden has been clear that we will stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said Blinken in a prepared statement. “I reiterated this message to President Zelensky and his team today in Kyiv, which remains ̶ and will remain ̶ the capital of a sovereign and independent Ukraine. I also informed President Zelenskyy that, in accordance with a delegation power of the President, I authorize our twentieth withdrawal since September 2021 of American weapons and equipment for Ukraine.
Blinken also announced a $2.2 billion investment in long-term regional security through foreign military funding “to bolster the security of Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors, including many of our allies.” NATO, as well as other regional security partners potentially at risk of Russian aggression.
U.S. assistance through the Department of State’s Foreign Military Funding (FMF) and DoD’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) now totals more than $14.5 billion dollars since Russia launched its all-out assault on Ukraine in February. U.S. donations since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea total $17.3 billion, according to the State Department.
Blinken will travel to Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 9 for a whirlwind meeting with allies, the U.S. mission to NATO announced Thursday.
At the September 8 press conference in Germany, Austin said nations supporting Ukraine continue to provide assistance for Ukraine’s current fight, including ongoing offensives in the south around Kherson and the north around Kharkiv. The nations that support Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion are now also focusing on establishing a sustainable Ukrainian military capable of achieving its long-term goals of recapturing territory occupied by Russian and collaborationist forces since 2014.
“It means meeting Ukraine’s needs for today’s battlefield,” Austin said. “I am particularly pleased with today’s focus on positioning this contact group to support Ukraine’s self-defense over the long term. This means finding new and innovative ways to support the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian people as they defend their country, their lives and their freedom.
“Nations of goodwill around the world have also stepped up,” Austin added. “Each time we come together to address Ukraine’s urgent self-defense needs, and each time a contact member announces another new security assistance program, it is another sign of the enduring support of the free world to Ukraine and its refusal to accept imperial Russian aggression.”
Austin named several “nations of goodwill” for announcing new military equipment contributions to Ukraine, including the UK’s donation of the second batch of M270 tracked MLRS vehicles capable of firing the same guided rockets as HIMARS. This brings total UK aid to Ukraine to $2.6 billion.
Germany and Denmark also announced new military aid programs including air defense systems, he said. Austin also thanks Poland for “having been the backbone of our efforts to support the Ukrainians and for their generous donations of military equipment,” including the donation earlier this summer of three battalions of 155-millimeter Krab self-propelled howitzers. He also applauded Slovakia, North Macedonia and “several other countries” for donating tanks and other armored vehicles.
Over the next few weeks, in coordination with NATO, the United States will host a special contact group session of member states’ national armaments directors, Austin said. The meeting will focus on how each nation’s industrial base can best sustain a protracted war in Ukraine while meeting the needs of each nation’s military.
“I look forward to building on this momentum and finding more innovative ways for all of us to support Ukraine defenders,” Austin said. “It means reinvigorating our defense industrial bases to meet both Ukraine’s priorities and our own needs, and it means finding new ways to accelerate our production of key capabilities…. In our discussions today, we will also discuss the next steps in establishing an international training commission for Ukrainian forces.
Training Ukrainian troops for a long-term war that will last at least through winter and potentially for another year or more is proof that Kyiv and its international backers are here to stay. NATO-standard weapons and combined-arms maneuver tactics proved essential to stop and now begin to repel the Russian onslaught once feared as Europe’s strongest army.
Expect the United States and NATO to start handing more responsibility for continuing the fight to European-trained Ukrainian leaders. Meanwhile, countries that have flooded Ukraine with readily available stockpiles of weapons are looking slightly inward to replace weapons their own armies might need to fend off a similar threat.