Members of the Ukrainian Army begin a troop exercise. The U.S. Defense Department announced $250 million in support to Ukraine on Tuesday, which includes lethal weapons and military training. Photo courtesy of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry
June 19 (UPI) -- Ukraine will receive an additional $250 million in military aid, some of it for lethal weapons, from the United States, the Defense Department announced.
Sniper rifles, grenade launchers, counter-artillery radar, electronic warfare detection equipment and other material were on the list of items revealed on Tuesday.
The support also includes considerable training and advisory efforts by U.S. forces, notably for the Ukrainian navy, which has been unable to counter Russian naval forces in the Black Sea.
"The United States remains committed to helping Ukraine implement provisions of Ukraine's 2018 Law on National Security to strengthen democratic civilian control of the military, promote command and control reforms, enhance transparency and accountability in acquisition and budgeting, and advance defense industry reforms," the Pentagon said Tuesday in a statement. "These reforms will bolster Ukraine's ability to defend its territorial integrity in support of a secure, prosperous, democratic, and free Ukraine."
Russia seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and has supported separatist militants in the eastern Ukrainian region known as the Donbas. In a 2018 naval incident in the Kerch Strait, 24 Ukrainian seamen were captured by the Russian navy as three Ukrainian ships were fired upon and seized. Those captured remain in detention pending criminal proceedings.
Since the Kerch Strait incident, NATO countries' navies have expanded their activities in the Black Sea.
The additional U.S. aid will bring total U.S. support of the Ukrainian military to $1.5 billion since 2014.
In September, the U.S. Coast Guard handed two Island-class cutters, each armed with .50 caliber machine guns and 25 mm deck guns, to the Ukrainian navy.
The aid can be regarded as a win for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, an untested show business personality turned politician who was elected earlier this year on an anti-corruption platform. Zelensky traveled to NATO headquarters in Brussels for his first official trip as leader, and earlier this week in Paris called for continued pressure on Moscow.