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The United States pledges the Patriots to Ukraine under a $1.85 billion aid package

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The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would provide $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, funding a Patriot missile battery.

The White House announcement came just hours before Zelensky, on his first known trip outside the country since February, arrived at Joint Base Andrews, outside the capital. The package includes $1 billion in weapons and equipment from Pentagon stockpiles, including a Patriot battery for the first time, and $850 million in funding through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Part of the USAI will be used to fund a satellite communications system, which will likely include the important SpaceX Starlink satellite network system owned by Elon Musk.

“As Russia continues its brutal attacks against critical infrastructure in Ukraine, the United States welcomes President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington, D.C., today to reaffirm our enduring commitment to the people of Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, adding that the United States will provide “significant new and additional military capabilities.” To help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s brutal and unprovoked attack.”

Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have pressured Western leaders to provide more advanced weapons, including Patriot missiles, to help their country in the war with Russia. The Patriot would be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system ever offered to Ukraine by the West in order to help fend off Russian air strikes.

The package also includes two other main components. The Pentagon will send an undisclosed number of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, to Ukraine. The kits will be used to modify the massive bombs by adding tail fins and precision navigation systems so that they can be launched and aimed at a target rather than simply dropped from a fighter jet onto the target.

The US will also fund satellite communications terminals and services, bolstering a potential vulnerability for Ukraine after Musk said his company could no longer provide services for free. The satellite assistance would be a hedge against the possibility of Musk threatening to cut off its funding. Elon Musk shipped the first Starlink terminals to Ukraine days after Russia invaded in February, and as of October, there were more than 2,200 low-orbit satellites providing broadband internet to Ukraine. In October, he asked the Pentagon to bear the costs of Starlink’s operations in Ukraine, and tweeted that it was costing SpaceX $20 million a month to support the country’s communications needs.

John Ferrari, a senior fellow and space expert at the American Enterprise Institute, said the system was a “game-changer” in allowing Ukraine’s military and infrastructure to continue operating. While Wednesday’s funding announcement is for satellite communications terminals and services, and doesn’t identify Musk’s company, it will be difficult to bring other systems onto the battlefield because they often won’t work well together, Ferrari said.

The decision to send the Patriot battery comes despite threats from the Russian Foreign Ministry that the delivery of the advanced surface-to-air missile system would be considered a provocation and that the Patriot missiles and any accompanying crews would be a legitimate target for Russia. Army.

However, the White House resists the notion that handing over the Patriots amounts to an escalation of US intervention on behalf of Ukraine. A senior administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said Biden was clear his administration was “leaning forward” in supporting Ukraine but “does not seek direct war with Russia.”

It is not clear exactly when the Patriots will reach the front lines in Ukraine as US forces will have to train Ukrainian forces on how to use the high-tech system. The training may take several weeks and is expected to take place in the Grafenwoehr training area in Germany. To date, all training of Ukrainian forces by the United States and the West has been conducted in European countries.

The aid package also included more missiles for High Mobility Missile Systems, or HIMARS; 500 precision-guided artillery rounds for the howitzers; 30 mortar systems and 10,000 mortar rounds; 37 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles; 120 Humvees; six armored trucks; over 2,700 grenade launchers and other weapons; an undisclosed number of HARM air-to-surface anti-radiation missiles; – Claymore anti-personnel mines; demolition ammunition and other equipment as well as body armor.

The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which pays for long-term procurement, will fund more than 200,000 rounds of various munitions, satellite systems, and ongoing training and maintenance.

This is the 28thThe tenth The time the Pentagon pulls weapons off the shelf for quick delivery to Ukraine, often arriving in a matter of days to Europe and war. Overall, the United States has provided about $21.3 billion in military aid and equipment since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

The aid comes as Congress prepares to approve another $44.9 billion in aid to Ukraine as part of the massive spending bill. This would ensure continued US support next year and beyond, with Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives next January. Some GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns about the aid.

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