US announces new $600 million aid package for Ukraine to boost counteroffensive

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon announced a new $600 million package of long-term aid to Ukraine on Thursday, providing funding for an array of weapons and other equipment just a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the country and pledged $1 billion in new military and humanitarian aid.

The Defense Department said the latest package will come through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides money for long-term contracts for weapons systems that need to be built or modified by defense companies.

Included in the aid is funding for equipment to sustain and integrate Ukraine’s air defense systems, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), artillery rounds, electronic warfare and counter-electronic warfare equipment, demolition munitions and mine-clearing equipment, as well as for training and maintenance.

The aid comes as the Biden administration works to show its continued support for Ukraine's three-month-old counteroffensive, as troops try to break through Russian defenses and clear vast mine fields. Some allies have quietly expressed concerns about the slow-moving offensive, while others say Ukraine has made some progress and has successfully used air defenses to knock down Russian missiles.

Blinken, on a trip to Kyiv on Wednesday, announced that the Pentagon will provide about $175 million for weapons that will be pulled from Pentagon stocks and an additional $100 million in grants to allow the Ukrainians to purchase arms and equipment.

In addition, he announced the U.S. will send nearly $805 million in non-arms-related aid to Ukraine, including $300 million for law enforcement, $206 million in humanitarian aid, $203 million to combat corruption and $90.5 million for removing mines, the State Department said. That package also included a previously announced $5.4 million transfer to Ukraine of frozen assets from Russian oligarchs.

The aid announced this week comes from money previously approved by Congress. President Joe Biden has requested $21 billion more in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine for the final months of 2023, but it’s not clear how much — if any — will be approved by Congress.