Ukrainian demonstrators rally in Kyiv on February 12, 2022 to show unity amid U.S. warnings of an imminent Russian invasion. Photo by Oleksandr Khomenko/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The Biden administration on Thursday announced another package of lethal assistance for Ukraine, valued at some $600 million, just a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken committed $1 billion in humanitarian and security assistance to Kyiv during a surprise visit.
The new package will come from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which sees the United States secure the weaponry and training from partners and companies rather than from presidential drawdowns that take from U.S. stockpiles.
"This $600 million package includes equipment to augment Ukraine's air defenses, artillery munitions and other capabilities," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters during a Wednesday press conference.
A list from the Pentagon shows the package includes additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, 105mm artillery rounds, electronic and counter-electronic warfare equipment, demolition munitions, mine-clearing equipment and unspecified equipment to "sustain and integrate" Kyiv's air defense systems.
Support and equipment for training, maintenance and sustainment activities were also included, it said.
"This USAI package highlights the continued U.S. commitment to meeting Ukraine's pressing requirements by committing critical near-term capabilities, while also building the enduring capacity of Ukraine's Armed Forces to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the mid and long term," the Pentagon said in a statement.
The package lifts the United States' security assistance commitment to Ukraine to $43.7 billion amid the war, which Russia launched Feb. 24, 2022, when it invaded its neighbor and former Soviet nation.
The announcement was made as Ukraine continues with its slow-moving counteroffensive to retake land seized by Russia and a day after Blinken visited the war-torn country in a show of support.
Blinken's announced commitment included $175 million in weaponry that will come from the president's drawdown authority and includes controversial 120mm depleted uranium ammunition for Abrams tanks that U.S. officials expect to reach the battlefield this fall.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, as well as the Russian Embassy in Washington, has criticized the commitment of depleted uranium munitions to Kyiv as "a clear sign of inhumanity" and a threat to future generations.
In response, Singh told reporters Thursday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found no evidence that the depleted uranium rounds cause cancer and the World Health Organization states there has been no increase of leukemia or other cancers following any exposure to uranium or depleted uranium.
"They're meant to pierce tanks, and they ... will be used very effectively on the battlefield," she said, while describing them as "standard issued rounds."
"These are what these Abrams tanks will use, and many militaries across the world use depleted uranium in their tanks," she said.
"So, we feel that these will be the most effective rounds to counter Russian tanks, and will help the Ukrainians to defend their territory."