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U.S. unveils another $400M military aid package for Ukraine

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White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks about the Biden administrations $400 million aid package to Ukraine during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks about the Biden administrations $400 million aid package to Ukraine during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Thursday announced an additional $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine that includes air defense systems, which Kyiv has continually requested from ally nations to defend its cities from Russian missile attacks.

The package includes an assortment of artillery, small arms and mortar rounds as well 100 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles and other lethal and non-lethal assistance on top of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which U.S. and Kyiv officials have praised as integral to Ukraine's defense.

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Four Avenger air defense systems and Stinger missiles were also included.

The packaged was unveiled as Kremlin forces since early last month have been targeting Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, which has decimated its electricity facilities, forcing officials to impose rolling blackouts, affecting millions countrywide.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said early this month that the attacks, which he has described as "energy terrorism," have damaged about 40% of Ukraine's entire energy infrastructure.

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Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters during a press briefing Wednesday that the HAWK missiles will help to confront the threat Russia poses to Ukraine's infrastructure while the Avenger short-range air defense systems will protect Ukrainian troops from Kremlin's use of drone and helicopter attacks.

"With Russia's unrelenting and brutal air attacks on Ukrainian civilian and critical infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities are critical," she said.

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In Washington, D.C., national security advisor Jake Sullivan, who was in Kyiv last week, added that the package will complement other aid defense contributions announced by ally nations and partners.

Sullivan said during his recent trip to the war-torn country that Zelensky explained what they required on the battlefield.

"This increased air defense will be critical for Ukraine as Russia continues to use cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack critical civilian infrastructure," he said.

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The package is the 25th drawdown of equipment from U.S. stockpiles for Ukraine since August of last year and amounts to more than $19.3 billion that the Biden administration has given Kyiv since the war began in late February.

However, its announcement comes as ballots were still being counted from the midterm elections, leaving not only the power balance of the House and Senate hanging but the future of the United States' commitment to Ukraine as some Republicans, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, have said they would limit military aid to the European country if they gain a majority.

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Amid the election cycle, the Biden administration has repeatedly told reporters that the make up of Congress will not affect crucial foreign policy decisions, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday stating "the United States' support for Ukraine will be unflinching and unwavering."

Sullivan told reporters Thursday that President Joe Biden has been clear "that there will be strong, enduring, unflagging, unwavering support for Ukraine."

The war began Feb. 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in more than 100,000 Russian soldiers dead, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley said, adding that some 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have also died amid the fighting.

Zelensky in his nightly address on Thursday thanked the United States for the package.

"Just what we needed, what we asked for," he said.

Russia attacks Kyiv, Ukraine with kamikaze drone strike

Firefighters conduct work while smoke rises from a building after it was attacked by Russian drones in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo

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