By TARA COPP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending an additional $400 million in ammunition and generators to Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday, and is pulling the gear from its own stockpiles to get the support to Kyiv as fast as possible as Russia continues to target Ukraine’s energy sources and winter sets in.
Including the latest aid, the U.S. has committed more than $19 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on Feb. 24. The new package of aid will be provided through presidential drawdown authority, which allows the Pentagon to take weapons from its own stock and quickly ship them to Ukraine.
The latest package includes 200 generators, an undisclosed amount of additional rounds for both the advanced NASAMS air defense systems and the HIMARS artillery systems the U.S. has shipped to Ukraine, 150 heavy machine guns with thermal sights to shoot down drones, 10,000 120mm mortar rounds and 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, among other items, the Pentagon said.
Now in its ninth month, the intense firefight in Ukraine has had both sides firing thousands of rounds of munitions a day, from bullets for small arms to truck-sized cruise missiles. In a sign of how intense the ground battle has been, the U.S. to date has provided 104 million rounds of small arms ammunition to Ukraine.
“With Russia’s unrelenting and brutal missile and (drone) attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities remain an urgent priority,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The additional munitions for NASAMS and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats.”
The continued push of weapons to Kyiv, however, is raising questions about how long the U.S. and partner nations can continue to sustain the fight without harming their own military readiness. Many European nations have already said they have pushed forward all the excess they can afford to send.
Last week, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Bill LaPlante, traveled to Brussels to meet with representatives of 45 partner nations to discuss some of Ukraine’s top priorities, including more air defense systems and long-range weapons. They discussed coordinating efforts to keep weapons flowing by identifying the capabilities of their individual defense industrial bases as well as the supply chain and production constraints they face, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The flow of weapons comes as the Biden administration seeks to pass an additional $37 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine during the post-election session of Congress, before Republicans take over control of the House in January. Some Republican members, including potential speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have questioned the amount of money being spent on Ukraine.
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