The US will send anti-tank weapons, air defense equipment and additional HIMARS systems to Ukraine.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Kiev to announce a new military aid package for Ukraine worth $100 million.
Austin, in his first visit to Kiev since April 2022, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, and Commander-in-Chief Valery Zarzhiny on Monday, pledging long-term U.S. support.
“Mr. President, the message I bring to you today is that the United States of America is with you. We will always be with you,” Mr. Austin told Mr. Zelensky.
Austin said Ukraine’s efforts to defeat Russian forces were “important to the rest of the world” and that U.S. support would continue “for a long time.”
The new aid package includes anti-tank weapons, air defense interceptors and additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Zelenskyy told Austin that his visit was a “very important signal” for Ukraine.
The President of Ukraine said, “We look forward to your support.”
Since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has provided $44 billion in security assistance, ranging from millions of bullets to air defense systems to advanced tanks from Europe and the United States. US dollar and has provided an additional $35 billion to allies. Finally, he promised to introduce F-16 fighter jets.
But there are concerns that support from allies is waning amid the devastating Israel-Gaza war and a lack of progress in Ukraine’s counterattack that began in June.
In eastern Ukraine, fighting has simmered around ruined towns such as Bakhmut and Avidka, but Ukraine has recently established a foothold on the east bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region and in the Black Sea.
But once the cold weather sets in, ground conditions will make it difficult for either side to make much of a profit.
“I think they are preparing for winter fighting,” Austin told reporters after the meeting, adding that he expected Russia to “become more aggressive.”
Last year, the Russian government brutally attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and power grid, leaving millions of Ukrainians in the cold and darkness in often sub-zero temperatures.
Fred Kagan, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said it’s a mistake to think there’s time to wait.
“If we cut off aid to Ukraine, the stalemate will not continue. This aid is actually essential to prevent Russia from moving again in a way that would allow it to defeat Ukraine. Yes,” Kagan told The Associated Press. “So the cost of cutting aid is Russia wins, Ukraine loses, and NATO loses.”
Mr. Austin’s visit comes amid growing divisions in the U.S. Congress over aid to Ukraine. Some members of Congress want to make aid to Israel a priority, even though U.S. defense officials have stressed that Washington can support both allies at the same time. Republican groups oppose sending more aid to Ukraine, saying taxpayer funds will go home.