By Carla Babb
The United States will provide another $300 million in new military aid for Ukraine in a package that is expected to include munitions for Ukraine’s Patriot missile defense system, defense officials tell VOA.
The officials, who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity ahead of the package’s expected release Wednesday, said the latest aid also includes rockets for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and more tank ammunition and anti-armor capabilities ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive.
Zuni unguided aircraft rockets and AIM-7 radar-guided air-to-air missiles are being provided for air support, and Avenger air defense systems and Stinger surface-to-air missile systems will also be included, according to officials.
Once released, the aid package will mark the 39th authorized presidential drawdown of military equipment from Defense Department inventories since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The latest aid package comes as about 200 Ukrainian soldiers have begun combined arms training on M1A1 Abrams tanks in Germany, according to a statement from U.S. Army Europe.
Another 200 Ukrainian soldiers are training on tank fueling operations and maintenance, according to the statement.
The Ukrainians will train on 31 Abrams tanks that arrived in Germany earlier this month. U.S. officials have said that a different set of 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks are being refurbished in the United States and will be delivered to Ukraine by the fall.
The training in Germany, which started on May 26, is expected to last about 10 weeks, according to a senior U.S. military official. Abrams tanks, in particular, have been a long-awaited addition to the fight. The tank’s thick armor and 1,500-horsepower turbine engine make it much more advanced than the Soviet-era tanks Ukraine has been using since the war’s beginning.
The U.S. has pledged more than $37 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, although the Pentagon continues to work through an accounting error that overstated the amount of value going to Kyiv. When calculating its aid package estimates, the Department of Defense was counting the cost incurred to replace the weapons given to Ukraine, while it should have been totaling the cost of the systems actually sent, officials told VOA.
The error that is expected to translate into about $3 billion available for more aid to Ukraine, according to officials.
Moscow began a renewed offensive in Ukraine earlier this year that has stalled, and Kyiv is preparing for a massive counteroffensive that is expected to begin in the coming days or weeks.
A senior military official, speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity to discuss security matters, said the Ukrainian counter-offensive would probably not be “as dramatic” as some people expect but still would be carried out “deliberately and effectively” by targeting Russia’s ability to control its defenses inside Ukraine.