The Biden government confirmed its decision to deploy up to $500 million in military assistance to Ukraine this Tuesday, a move set to include over 50 heavily fortified vehicles and an impressive supply of air defense system missiles. This support follows an unexpected insurrection in Russia over the weekend. It is seen as an effort to encourage Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which, until now, has been sluggish in its initial phases.
This marks the 41st occasion since the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that the United States, under the authorization of the President, has made substantial provisions of military equipment and weaponry from its reserves for Ukraine. The expedited delivery process under this program underscores the U.S.’s unwavering commitment to its Eastern European ally.
Though these aid packages typically follow a premeditated design and have recently comprised several essential armaments for frontline combat, it is unlikely that the choice of contents was influenced by the recent uprising led by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenary group. The question remains whether the Ukrainian forces can capitalize on the resulting chaos in the Russian ranks post this fleeting revolt.
Nonetheless, the incoming shipment of missiles and heavy-duty vehicles could potentially be leveraged by Ukraine as it attempts to exploit the escalating rift between the head of the Wagner Group and the Russian military hierarchy. The extent to which Prigozhin’s mercenaries might withdraw from the conflict remains a topic of speculation.
Interestingly, these mercenaries had withdrawn from Ukraine to overtake a military headquarters in a southern Russian city. They journeyed hundreds of miles towards Moscow, only to retreat after a mere 24 hours last Saturday.
A statement from the Pentagon has detailed that the U.S. plans to dispatch 30 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 25 armored Stryker vehicles to Ukraine. Additional military support includes missiles for the High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Patriot air defense systems, Javelin and high-speed anti-radiation (HARM) missiles, demolition weaponry, and other artillery rounds and ammunition varieties.
The White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton stated that the new package contains “key capabilities” to enhance Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations and fortify its air defenses.
The Pentagon reported that since the Russian invasion, the U.S. had delivered over $15 billion worth of weaponry and equipment to Ukraine, with an additional $6.2 billion in unidentified supplies yet to be sent. The extra amount of over $6 billion resulted from an accounting mistake, as the military had overestimated the worth of the weaponry it shipped to Ukraine during the past year.
Beyond this immediate support, the U.S. has also committed to providing over $16.7 billion in long-term funding for various weapons, training, and other equipment through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and nearly $2 billion more in foreign military financing.
The U.S. still holds $1.2 billion in uncommitted drawdown authority, which will lapse at the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30. Meanwhile, the remaining $1.9 billion in USAI funds is set to expire only at the end of the next fiscal year, in September 2024.