A Patriot air defense missile launches at the NATO Missile Firing Installation in Chania, Greece, in November 2017.

A Patriot air defense missile launches at the NATO Missile Firing Installation in Chania, Greece, in November 2017. (Sebastian Apel/German air force via U.S. Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday announced for the second time this week more military aid for Ukraine, including Patriot missiles as part of $6 billion in weapons and equipment to help its air defense against invading Russian forces.

The aid is the largest security assistance package that the U.S. has committed to Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday during a news conference at the Pentagon. It will be provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, which gives long-term assistance to procure weapons and munitions from the defense industry or partner countries for a later time.

The package also includes more munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, as well as additional gear to integrate Western air defense launchers, missiles and radars with Ukraine’s air-defense systems.

“Russia is launching increasingly fierce attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, including targeting its power plants. And more and more Ukrainian citizens are dying,” Austin said during a Ukraine Defense Contract Group meeting held earlier Friday. “So we’re going to have a special focus today on boosting Ukraine’s air defenses. Ukraine is in dire need of more air-defense systems. And it urgently needs more interceptors.”

The rejuvenated U.S. effort to provide military aid to Ukraine comes after Congress passed legislation earlier this week approving $95 billion in foreign aid.

The $95 billion includes money for Israel and Taiwan, with $60 billion going to Ukraine. President Joe Biden signed the legislation into law Wednesday, followed by the Pentagon announcing $1 billion in military aid in air-defense systems and artillery rounds. The $1 billion is provided through the presidential drawdown authority in which equipment is pulled from existing U.S. military stocks and sent to Ukraine on an emergency basis.

The legislation ended months of political deadlock that saw the bill stall because some Republicans were opposed to arming Ukraine even though Russia has gained momentum on the battlefield.

As Congress tried to strike a deal, the Pentagon was unable to provide Ukraine with military aid since its last aid package of $250 million in December.

However, the U.S. was able to send $300 million in weapons and ammunition in March after defense officials said the Pentagon was able to find cost savings in earlier Ukraine contracts and used that money to send more military aid to Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday, April 26, 2024, that the U.S. is sending another $6 billion in weapons and equipment to Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced Friday, April 26, 2024, that the U.S. is sending another $6 billion in weapons and equipment to Ukraine. (Chad J. McNeeley/DOD)

“In two years, 793 days later, Ukraine is still fighting. And that’s quite remarkable, and it’s holding that ground even in the face of a question as to whether or not we’re going to continue to support them,” Austin told reporters Friday. “That question is off the table. And that has reassured the Ukrainians, but also it’s reassuring our allies and partners around the globe.”

The Ukraine Defense Contract Group, which consists of about 50 nations to provide assistance and weapons to Ukraine, met on the two-year anniversary of the first meeting at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended Friday’s group meeting and discussed the need for Patriots.

“We urgently need Patriot systems and missiles for them. This is what can and should save lives right now,” he said.

Austin told reporters that he hopes to work with several countries to put together Patriot capabilities, while making clear this is not a “silver bullet.”

“I would say it’s going to be the integrated air and missile defenses … that really turns the tide,” he said. “There are other capabilities they need that we really pushed hard to get and we may be able to get to the Ukrainians a bit faster.”

Other nations have recently provided assistance to Ukraine, including Germany sending a Patriot air-defense system and the United Kingdom providing $620 million in military aid. The shipment will include British Storm Shadow long-range missiles, which have a range of about 150 miles and have proved effective at hitting Russian targets.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters Tuesday that next year Britain would deploy its Typhoon fighter jets to Poland to help police its skies. Poland, which borders Ukraine, has seen several incursions of its airspace since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The items in the military aid announced Friday include:

• Additional munitions for Patriot air-defense systems.

• Additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems.

• Equipment to integrate Western air-defense launchers, missiles and radars with Ukraine’s air-defense systems.

• Counter-drone equipment and systems.

• Munitions for laser-guided rocket systems.

• Multi-mission radars.

• Counter-artillery radars.

• Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

• 155mm and 152mm artillery rounds.

• Precision aerial munitions.

• Switchblade and Puma drones.

• Tactical vehicles to tow weapons and equipment.

• Demolition munitions.

• Components to support Ukrainian production of drones and other capabilities.

• Small arms and additional small arms ammunition.

• Ancillary items and support for training, maintenance and sustainment activities.

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Matthew Adams covers the Defense Department at the Pentagon. His past reporting experience includes covering politics for The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and The News and Observer. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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