WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – The United States will send munitions and military vehicles to Ukraine as part of a new $725 million security assistance package aimed at bolstering the country’s defense against the Russian invasion, the Defense Department said on Friday.
The package is the first since Russia’s barrage of missiles fired on civilian population centers in Ukraine this week. It will bring the total of U.S. security assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 to more than $17.5 billion.
The contents of the latest package, first reported by Reuters, includes high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs) and precision-guided artillery as well as medical supplies, the Defense Department said in a statement.
President Joe Biden issued a statement delegating the secretary of state “to direct the drawdown of up to $725 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training” to aid Ukraine.
Moscow has called its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation”.
A U.S. official told Reuters the aid package was designed to bolster Ukraine’s ability to beat back Russia in the counter offensive that has yielded large territorial gains in recent weeks.
Separately, Ukraine expects the United States and Germany to deliver sophisticated anti-aircraft systems this month to help it counter attacks by Russian missiles and kamikaze drones, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Friday.
Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) allows them to be shipped to Ukraine in the coming days. It allows the United States to transfer defense articles and services from stocks quickly without congressional approval in response to an emergency.
This is the second PDA package of the U.S. government’s 2023 fiscal year which is functioning under a stop-gap funding measure and allows Biden to tap up to $3.7 billion in surplus weapons for transfer to Ukraine through mid-December.
In general, to finance weapons for Ukraine, including the sophisticated anti-aircraft NASAMS systems expected this month, Washington uses funds from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) to procure weapons from industry, rather than pulling them from existing U.S. weapons stocks.
NASAMS are made by Raytheon Technologies Corp RTX.N and Norway’s Kongsberg KOG.OL.
(Reporting by Mike Stone and Humeyra Pamukinin in Washington; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Heather Timmons, Grant McCool Shri Navaratnam)