US Announces $2.6 Billion Additional Aid for Ukraine

WASHINGTON — The United States plans to send additional interceptors and air defense munitions to Ukraine as part of a $2.6 billion aid package, part of which will be used to help Kyiv prepare for its planned spring offensive against Russian forces.

Package announced on Tuesday including $500 million of ammunition and equipment from US military reserves, and $2.1 billion that the United States plans to use to buy ammunition, radars and other weapons for future shipments to Ukraine.

“Russia alone can end the war today,” said Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken a statement. “Until Russia does, the United States and our allies and partners will remain united with Ukraine for as long as necessary.”

The $2.1 billion fund, made available under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a funding program led by the Department of Defense, will be used to purchase missiles for the NASAMS air defense system. The money will also be used to buy anti-aircraft munitions, mobile laser-guided rocket systems, fuel tankers and other equipment, according to the Pentagon.

The air defense system is particularly notable as Russia continues to launch barrages of long-range missiles at Ukraine. They include two new anti-drone weapon systems: nine trucks each fitted with 30-millimeter guns and 10 mobile rocket launchers.

In a briefing to reporters from the Pentagon, a senior defense official said the mobile launcher would fire laser-guided rockets previously provided to Ukraine.

The munition, called the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, is a new adaptation of the aerial rockets that American warplanes and helicopters have used in combat since the Korean War. Measuring 2.75 inches in diameter and about four feet long, it uses a solid-fuel rocket motor that can be attached to a variety of warheads for a variety of missions.

The system is a kit inserted between the warhead and the rocket motor, converting the unguided weapon into a precision-guided weapon that can be fired accurately in smaller numbers to destroy targets. First used by US aircraft in the post-9/11 war, they were supplied to Ukraine early in the war to attack ground targets. Whether they were ever used to shoot down drones is unclear.

The weapons trucks are believed to be effective in shooting down drones like the Iran Shaheds that Russian troops rain on in Ukraine, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the aid package.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting is still raging in the town of Bakhmut, which is at the heart of Russia's campaign to seize all of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Russian troops are thought to have taken the town months ago, but the battle has been long, costly and so far uncertain.

The front line was relatively static at the moment, the official said, with the two sides exchanging significant amounts of artillery fire. The United States is focused on supporting Ukraine to change that dynamic, the official added.