The United States is providing up to $325 million in additional military aid for Ukraine, a U.S. defense official tells VOA.
The package is expected to include Stryker and Bradley armored vehicles that can replace those damaged and destroyed in the Ukrainian counteroffensive currently underway, according to two Defense officials, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity ahead of the package’s expected release Tuesday.
The officials said the latest aid also includes munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), along with more rockets for Ukraine’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
The aid announcement comes amid reports that Ukraine has lost more than a dozen Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in recent days, highlighting the military costs of the current counteroffensive.
“These top systems, as good as they are, are vulnerable and will need to be replaced, and so it's a reminder that this security provision is not a one-off. This is going to have to continue for the long term,” said Bradley Bowman, senior director of the Center on Military and Political Power at Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Once released, the latest aid package will mark the 40th authorized presidential drawdown of military equipment from Defense Department inventories since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin travels to Brussels this week for a meeting of NATO defense ministers, where support for Ukraine will be a top priority.
During his time in Brussels, Austin will host another meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group to discuss how Western allies can better support Ukraine’s military now that its new counteroffensive has begun, according to officials.
Defense leaders also will continue to iron out plans for Ukrainian pilots to train on F-16 fighter jets, the officials added.
The U.S. has pledged more than $39 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 Defense Department 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 is expected to translate into billions of additional dollars that will be available for more aid to Ukraine, according to officials.
The Pentagon announced Friday it is providing an additional $2.1 billion in long-term weapons aid for Ukraine, including more Patriot missile battery munitions and small, hand-launched Puma drones.
Unlike the immediate aid to Ukraine sent from Pentagon stocks through the presidential drawdown authority, this aid money is provided under the United States’ Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and is meant to be spent on Ukraine’s future security needs.
Moscow began a renewed offensive in Ukraine earlier this year that has stalled, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently confirmed that Kyiv’s massive counteroffensive has begun.
A senior military official, speaking to VOA on the condition of anonymity to discuss security matters, said the Ukrainian counteroffensive 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.
Russian forces have spent months heavily fortifying their positions inside Ukraine, making Kyiv’s counteroffensive even more difficult to execute.
“It's harder to go on offense than it is to be on defense,” Bowman said. Ukrainians “have entrenched, dug in Russian forces with minefields in front of them. That's about as hard as it can get in warfare.”