The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will send an estimated $300 million worth of additional weaponry and equipment to Ukraine, focusing the latest military aid package on air defense systems to help Kyiv fend off Russian aerial attacks.
As part of the package, the US will be providing Ukraine with radar-guided, air-to-air AIM-7 missiles for the first time. It’s unclear if the older air-to-air missiles have been adapted to Ukraine’s Soviet-era fighter jets or if they will be used in conjunction with a ground-based system.
The package will also include munitions for unmanned aerial systems, which a US official described as mortar-like ammunition that can be dropped from drones. Ukraine has used smaller commercial drones to drop grenades and mortar rounds on Russian troops and positions from above, often posting videos of such jerry-rigged attacks on social media.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US in a tweet and said the newest assistance is "extremely important and timely" and the latest example of "unflagging American support."
The latest package will protect Ukraine's skies "from Russian missile and drone terror, as well as to bolster the capabilities of the Ukrainian Defense Forces," the tweet said.
The additional drone ammunition comes amid a spate of drone attacks on Russian targets in recent days, including against residential buildings in Moscow and two Russian oil refineries in southern Russia. US officials have not determined who launched those attacks, but US intelligence officials believe Ukrainians were behind a drone attack on the Kremlin earlier this month, CNN has reported.
The White House reiterated Wednesday that US officials have told Ukraine that the US does not support attacks on Russian territory, especially with US-provided equipment. Two US officials said there is no evidence right now, though, that the drones were provided by the US.
The US will also be providing Ukraine with additional missiles for Patriot air defense systems, one of which was damaged by a Russian hypersonic missile earlier this month, as well as Avenger air defense systems and additional stinger anti-aircraft systems.
The new package marks the 39th time since August 2021 that the administration has taken equipment directly from DoD inventories to provide to Ukraine, the Pentagon said in a press release. To date, the US has provided more than $37.6 billion in military aid since the start of the war in Ukraine.