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US sending Ukraine US$450 million more in arms, including rocket systems

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Ukrainian soldiers fire an M777 howitzer, supplied by the US, at Russian positions in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.

PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States will provide an additional US$450 million (S$625 million) in security assistance to Ukraine, including more long-range rocket systems, US officials said on Thursday (June 23).

Moscow’s forces are advancing in Ukraine’s east in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as the Donbas, where Ukraine fears some of its troops could be encircled in a Russian pincer move.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the package would be valued at up to US$450 million and include four additional High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, President Joe Biden’s administration has provided US$6.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, said Washington was closely working with Kyiv to identify which types of weapons could best fulfill their needs in each package.

“The reason we do it like this is so we can keep it relevant to what’s happening on the battlefield,” Kirby told reporters at a White House briefing.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine said it had received the first tranche of HIMARS, a powerful long-range weapon system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide in the months-long battle.

The latest package comes after Biden last week announced an infusion of US$1 billion in weapons for Ukraine that includes anti-ship rocket systems, artillery rockets, howitzers and ammunition.The war has entered a brutal attritional phase in recent weeks, with Russian forces concentrating overwhelming artillery firepower on the Donbas, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

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