Among the package the United States announced Monday for Ukraine included ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Photo courtesy of Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov/Twitter
Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The United States on Monday announced it was shipping Ukraine an additional $550 million in weapons to aid the war-torn country in its fight against Russia.
The drawdown of weapons from the Department of Defense stockpile for Ukraine is the 17th since August and equals more than $8 billion in U.S. funded-arms for Kyiv since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.
The security package was authorized by U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday, with top-ranking U.S. brass informing their Ukrainian counterparts of the decision, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said during a press briefing in Washington, D.C.
The Department of Defense published a list detailing the security package as containing 75,000 rounds of 155mm artillery ammunition and additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
"To meet its evolving battlefield requirements, the United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities," it said.
The package was announced as Ukraine has been asking allies for additional air defense support systems including last month when Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska told Congress in Washington, D.C, that it requires them to stop Russia's terror.
"I'm asking for air defense systems in order for rockets not to kill children in their strollers, in order for rockets not to destroy children's rooms and kill entire families," she told the lawmakers.
The same day the package was unveiled four previously announced HIMARS from the United States arrived in Ukraine, Kyiv's minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, tweeted.
"We have proven to be smart operators of this weapon," he said. "The sound of the [HIMARS] volley has become a top hit ... of this summer at the front line!"
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who has been calling for additional weapons for Ukraine, called the package and the arrival of the HIMARS "good news" for Kyiv, stating the systems have degraded Russia's ability to make war.
"HIMARS have enabled Ukrainian forces to reach behind Russian lines to strike critical logistics nodes and command & control centers," he tweeted. "This has frustrated Russia's attempts to continue its brutal invasion.
"I urge the admin to continue sending more HIMARS and ammo to [Ukraine]."
For his leadership and "robust" support, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Biden in a statement.
"Together, we are defending values of freedom common to both [Ukraine] & [the United States]," Zelensky said. "New defense assistance package is bringing us closer to victory."
The announcement came as the first shipment of Ukrainian grain was permitted to leave the Russian-blockaded city of Odessa amid the war.
Kirby said they welcome the step while condemning Russia for having weaponized food.
"We urge Russia to meet its commitments under this new arrangement, including by facilitating unimpeded exports of agricultural products from Black Sea ports in order to ease the food insecurity around the world," he said. "So we're going to be watching that closely."
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had briefed Ukraine on the security package's contents on Friday.