The US will send $1bn in additional military aid to Ukraine, the largest single drawdown of equipment since the start of the war.
The latest package will include additional ammunition for high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars), tens of thousands of rounds of artillery and mortar ammunition, anti-armour systems and armoured medical treatment vehicles.
Including this package, the US has now given approximately $9.8bn in security aid to Ukraine since president Joe Biden took office.
The new US aid comes as Kyiv prepares to mount a fresh offensive in the south, where it hopes to take back the city of Kherson and end Russia’s use of the Dnipro river as a natural barrier.
“The United States stands with allies and partners from more than 50 countries in providing vital security assistance to support Ukraine’s defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia’s aggression,” US secretary of state Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“As this war stretches on, the courage and strength of Ukraine’s military and its people become even more evident and even more extraordinary. Together, we will continue to consult closely with Ukraine and surge additional available systems and capabilities carefully calibrated to make a difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s eventual position at the negotiating table,” he added.
Separately on Monday, the US Agency for International Development announced it would provide an additional $4.5bn to the Ukrainian government to cover part of its budget deficit. The Ukrainian government will receive the first $3bn tranche of the new funds in August. Once they are dispersed, the US will have provided $8.5bn in direct budgetary support to Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces have already regained some territory in the southern regions in recent months. However, neither side has gained much ground in a war of attrition that has amounted to bloody artillery duels, both in the south and in the far eastern Donbas region since Russian forces failed to capture the capital city Kyiv early in the invasion.
Colin Kahl, US under secretary of defence for policy, said Moscow had recently reported some “incremental gains” in the eastern part of Ukraine in the Donbas, but at great cost to the Russian military, which has been reporting a high number of casualties. This was a result of “how well the Ukrainian military performed and all the assistance that the Ukrainian military had gotten”, he said.
“Now conditions in the east have since stabilised and the focus is really shifting to the south, and in part that’s because the Ukrainians are starting to put some pressure down south and the Russians have been forced to redeploy their forces down there,” he added.
Kahl said the Russians had taken a “tremendous number” of casualties: “I think it’s safe to suggest the Russians have taken probably 70,000-80,000 casualties, that is killed and wounded.”
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration, said the west needed to provide much more artillery and longer-range rockets, as well as tanks and aircraft, in order for Ukraine to retake Kherson.
“We need to significantly increase the number of multiple-launch rocket systems, Himars or M270,” Podolyak said in an interview ahead of the US announcement. “If today we have 20-30 then there should be 80-100 in order to be effective.”
“Otherwise, it will be a protracted war . . . it will be a costly war,” he added.