US gives Ukraine another $2 billion in military aid as war with Russia enters its second year
Stars and Stripes February 24, 2023
WASHINGTON — The United States will send another $2 billion in military aid to Ukraine that includes weapons, drones and other equipment, the Pentagon announced Friday, marking the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion.
President Joe Biden’s administration has committed more than $32 billion in military weapons and equipment to help the Ukrainians defend their land against a Russian attack that began Feb. 24, 2022.
“One year ago today, Russia launched an unprovoked and indefensible invasion of its peaceful and democratic neighbor Ukraine -- a cruel war of choice that has killed thousands of innocent Ukrainians, forced millions more from their homes, left countless Ukrainians wounded or traumatized, and inflicted tragedy and terror on a sovereign U.N. member state,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. “Today’s solemn anniversary is an opportunity for all who believe in freedom, rules, and sovereignty to recommit ourselves to supporting Ukraine’s brave defenders for the long haul -- and to recall that the stakes of Russia’s war stretch far beyond Ukraine.”
The military aid announced Friday includes more ammunition and artillery rounds, rockets for laser-guided systems, communications and mine-clearing equipment and money for training and maintenance, the Defense Department said.
The new U.S. assistance also includes several drone systems — such as the CyberLux K8, Altius-600 and Jump-20 systems — and counter-drone detection equipment. Friday was the first time the CyberLux, Altius and Jump systems have been listed in any U.S. security package for Ukraine.
The CyberLux K8 is mainly a surveillance drone while the Altius-600 is an intelligence-gathering system. The Jump 20 is a vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing drone that has multiple applications, including search and rescue operations.
The Pentagon said the new aid will bolster Ukraine’s air defenses and is being provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a program that procures the equipment from the defense industry rather than pulling it from Defense Department stocks. Because the weapons and systems are not coming from existing stocks, items committed through the initiative take longer to reach battlefields in Ukraine.
For example, it will take several months for the Ukrainians to receive 31 advanced M1 Abrams battle tanks that the U.S. has committed to them because those weapons are also being procured through the initiative.
After a year of fighting in Ukraine, various military setbacks and almost 200,000 Russian casualties, according to U.S. and allied estimates, Russia President Vladimir Putin has given no indication that he’s willing to end the conflict. Ukrainian and Western experts and officials have said they expect Russia to mount yet more offensives in Ukraine in the coming weeks when the weather warms.
“Putin thought that Ukraine’s defenses would collapse, that America’s resolve would falter, and that the world would look the other way,” Austin said. “He was wrong. One year later, Ukraine’s brave defenders have not wavered, and neither has our commitment to support them for as long as it takes.”
Though the United States has provided Ukraine many weapons and equipment in the past year, there are some items that the Biden administration has not committed to sending – including advanced American fighter jets, such as the Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Earlier this week, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said the U.N. estimates more than 8,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed in the war in the past year and 13,000 more have been injured. Some experts and officials on the ground in Ukraine, however, have said the true casualty numbers are almost certainly much higher.
“And our data are only the tip of the iceberg,” Türk said. “The toll on civilians is unbearable. … Nearly 18 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Some 14 million people have been displaced from their homes. … This senseless war has reverberated across the world.”
Austin said difficult times might still lie ahead.
“Let us remain clear-eyed about what is at stake in Ukraine,” he said. “And let us remain united in purpose and in action — and steadfast in our commitment to ensure that a world of rules and rights is not replaced by one of tyranny and turmoil.”