Accessibility links

Breaking News

US defense secretary announces $6 billion aid package for Ukraine


FILE - Ukrainian servicemen unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered as part of a U.S. security assistance package, at the Boryspil airport, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 11, 2022.
FILE - Ukrainian servicemen unpack Javelin anti-tank missiles, delivered as part of a U.S. security assistance package, at the Boryspil airport, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb. 11, 2022.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday a military aid package for Ukraine valued at up to $6 billion that will allow the U.S. to help build up Ukraine’s defense industry. Austin said the U.S. would send the anticipated aid “as soon as possible.”

He made these comments during a news conference after the Ukraine Defense Contact Group concluded its meeting on the second anniversary of its creation.

The announcement “underscores America’s commitment to Ukraine,” the U.S. defense secretary said.

“This coalition stands together and we will not falter, we will not flinch, and we will not fail” to stave off Russian aggression, he said.

Austin said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group would also assist in the creation of a self-reliant Ukrainian defense industry, boosting Ukraine’s capabilities on air defense, information technology, demining and new unmanned aerial vehicles, among others.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a coalition of more than 50 countries, for its decision Friday to swiftly provide more munitions to Ukraine.

"If we in Ukraine had not received your help with weapons, and if your countries had shown indifference to the destiny of our people, the world would definitely be different,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. But he warned the group that “predatory regimes like Russia's are rapidly increasing their appetite for aggression,” and that “aggression spreads when not stopped.”

“If our solidarity with you had not worked out and if your reaction to the war had remained only in words, the world would have had to deal with a much more powerful Russia,” he said.

Combination of weapons

Austin said the U.S. would provide Ukraine additional Patriot missiles for its air defense systems at Zelenskyy’s request.

He said the U.S. was also providing more ATACMS ballistic missiles.

Responding to a question from VOA on the significance of ATACMS ballistic missiles, Austin said they were “not a silver bullet” that would allow Ukraine to turn the tables on Russia in the battlefield. But they are an effective weapon in combination with other munitions, he said.

“I think with the capabilities, resources we provided, hopefully Ukraine will have the ability to not only hold its own but regenerate additional capability and create options for itself,” he added.

Austin expressed his gratitude to Congress for passing the $95 billion supplemental package, $61 billion of which will be going toward Ukraine, allowing it to keep defending its territories.

US defense secretary announces $6B military aid package for Ukraine
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:27 0:00

Galvanized world

Austin said the Ukraine Defense Contact Group reflects a galvanized world against Russian aggression on Ukraine.

“The nations gathered today understand what’s at stake for Ukraine, Europe, the United States and for the world,” he said. “If Putin prevails in Ukraine, the security circumstances would be global,” he said, adding, “As President Biden said, Putin will not stop in Ukraine.”

European Union governments are also stepping up to provide defense systems to Kyiv.

Spain's defense minister, Margarita Robles, said Friday that Madrid would deliver Patriot anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine. She confirmed the planned missile deliveries during a videoconference with other countries supporting Ukraine's defense against Russia's invasion, her ministry said.

During Friday’s virtual meeting of the Ukraine defense group, Zelenskyy said Kyiv needed Patriot missiles to create a shield against Russian missile attacks.

Blinken in China

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Friday that China's support for Russia's military could sour the recent inroads in relations between the world's biggest economies.

"I reiterated our serious concern about the PRC [People’s Republic of China] providing components that are powering Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine," Blinken said Friday at a news conference at the end of his visit to Beijing.

Blinken raised his concerns during 5½ hours of talks with China's top diplomat, Wang Yi.

"China is the top supplier of machine tools, microelectronics, nitrocellulose - which is critical to making munitions and rocket propellants - and other dual-use items that Moscow is using to ramp up its defense industrial base," Blinken said.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun, on Friday and said the two countries were working to strengthen their "strategic partnership in the defense sector."

Russia is intensifying its strikes across Ukraine, hitting rail lines to hamper the delivery of urgently needed U.S. weapons to the front and to complicate military logistics, a Kyiv intelligence source said Friday.

Russia also struck industrial facilities in different parts of Ukraine on Friday, killing two civilians and injuring at least seven, according to local authorities.

VOA’s Penelope Poulou contributed to this report. Some information came from Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.