The Biden administration on Wednesday announced an additional $1 billion in U.S. security assistance to, making a total of $5.6 billion pledged to the country since February.
President Biden toldof the new aid package in a phone call on Wednesday, according to the White House. The aid includes additional artillery and coastal defense weapons, as well as ammunition for the artillery and advanced rocket systems.
The $1 billion is sourced from two types of security aid. About $350 million of it is a drawdown of weapons from Defense Department inventory, and $650 million is sourced from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds used to procure industry contracts to make weapons.
Two vehicle-mounted launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles will be procured using the USAI funds and should be available to Ukraine in a few months, according to a defense official.
The announcement of new aid comes as the Ukrainians and Russians are in a fierce fight in the east of Ukraine, in the Donbas region.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley presided over a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels on Wednesday. The meeting of more than 45 countries focused on how to provide Ukraine with the aid it needs.
One of the items the Ukrainians have asked for is multiple launch rocket systems in order to provide them more standoff from the barrage of Russian artillery.
Earlier in June, the U.S. pledged four high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine and prepositioned them in Europe so Ukrainians could conduct training. About 60 Ukrainians completed training Wednesday, and the systems should be in Ukraine by the end of the month.
The fighting in the east is a block-by-block fight in most cases, with the Russians taking one street and the Ukrainians fighting to take it back.
The city ofin the Luhansk region has been the site of significant recent fighting. Milley told reporters Wednesday that about three-quarters of the city were in Russian control, “but the Ukrainians are fighting them street-by-street, house-by-house, and it’s not a done deal.”
He said both sides are taking significant losses. For instance, the reported estimate that Ukraine is losing 100 soldiers a day is in the ballpark of U.S. estimates, according to Milley. At the same time, he said the Russians have lost about 20-30% of their armored force, which is significant.