Pentagon approves $300M in weapons, armored vehicles, aerial systems for Ukraine

WASHINGTON — In a bid to help Ukrainian forces fighting Russia’s invasion, the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed on Friday that the United States will provide $300 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine, including drones, armored vehicles and machine guns, among other support.

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In a news release, the department stated that it had notified Congress of “additional assistance activities under authority provided by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.”

The initiative allows the U.S. to procure arms directly from manufacturers instead of delivering weapons from its own stockpiles to Ukraine, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told The Washington Post on Friday.

The package includes tactical secure communications systems, a counter-unmanned aerial system, nonstandard machine guns and other defense systems, The Hill reported.

According to the Post, the Pentagon has committed more than $1.6 billion in security assistance for Ukraine since Russia invaded the neighboring country on Feb. 24.

“This decision underscores the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia’s war of choice,” Kirby stated.

Most notably, the new aid will include the provision of Puma unmanned aerial systems, which are hand-launched lightweight drones that can fly for about two hours with a range of about a dozen miles, the Post reported.

Other items included in the security-assistance package include armored Humvees, night-vision devices, thermal imagery systems, tactical secure communications systems, commercial satellite imagery services, medical supplies and Switchblade drones, which are small unmanned aircraft packed with explosives that crash into targets such as tanks in “kamikaze” fashion, the newspaper reported.

In addition to the security assistance, the U.S. and its allies have delivered humanitarian aid and issued crushing economic sanctions targeting both Russian officials and institutions but stopped short of granting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone to protect the country’s airspace.