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US plans US$425 million Ukraine weapons aid announcement

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration plans to announce a US$425 million military aid package for Ukraine on Friday (Nov 3) including counter drone rockets and munitions, two US officials said on Thursday.

The package is not expected to include additional ATACMS missiles. Senior congressional Republicans have urged President Joe Biden to send longer-range missiles to Ukraine, despite pushback from some conservative lawmakers against more aid.

The planned aid package for Ukraine includes about US$300 million worth of laser-guided munitions to shoot down Russian drones, according to a document seen by Reuters and one of the officials. The funds for those munitions come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) programme, which allows the Biden administration to buy weapons from industry rather than pull from US weapons stocks.

The remainder of the US$125 million worth of weapons pledges include additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) air defences, munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 105 and 155 millimetre artillery, TOW anti-tank weapons, Claymore anti-personnel mines, small arms, and a dozen trucks, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Those weapons pledges are made possible by utilising Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which authorises Biden to transfer articles and services from US stocks without congressional approval during an emergency. The material will come from excess US inventory.

The Biden administration still has about US$5 billion of congressionally granted presidential drawdown authority, after the Pentagon found in June it had overestimated the value of arms shipped to Ukraine due to a US$6.2 billion accounting error.

The package was still being finalised and could change, the officials said.

Since the Russian invasion in February 2022 the US has sent about US$44 billion worth of security assistance to Ukraine.


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