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U.S. gives Ukraine $400M military aid package to thwart Russia's 'energy terror'

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Yana (R), with her children Timur and Nicol, waits in an evacuation train before departing to Kyiv, at the railway station in Kherson, southern Ukraine, on Wednesday. Yana with her children spent the whole time in Kherson during the Russian occupation. Russian troops for the past few days intensified the shelling of Kherson. Lack of electricity and running water in the town during the winter season has forced many locals to leave Kherson. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE
Yana (R), with her children Timur and Nicol, waits in an evacuation train before departing to Kyiv, at the railway station in Kherson, southern Ukraine, on Wednesday. Yana with her children spent the whole time in Kherson during the Russian occupation. Russian troops for the past few days intensified the shelling of Kherson. Lack of electricity and running water in the town during the winter season has forced many locals to leave Kherson. Photo by Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- The United States announced an additional $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine on Wednesday to aid the besieged nation's defense against Russia's continued targeting of its critical and energy infrastructure.

The package includes munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, heavy machine guns to counter drones and more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which officials have praised for their effectiveness in the European theater.

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Missiles, arms, tactical vehicles and parts were also included in the package, which is the 26th drawdown of supplies from U.S. stockpiles for Ukraine since August of last year.

"With Russia's unrelenting and brutal missile and [unmanned aerial systems] attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defense capabilities remain an urgent priority," the Department of Defense said in a release. "The additional NASAMS and heavy machine guns will help Ukraine counter these urgent threats."

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Following a late summer of humiliating defeats for Russia that continued into fall, Kremlin forces have been targeting Ukraine's critical and energy infrastructure ahead of the cold winter months.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as termed these attack "energy terror."

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Early this month, officials said 40% of the country's energy facilities had been damaged, with further damage sustained since, and millions have been left in the dark.

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On Wednesday, Russia launched 70 missiles, 51 of which were intercepted, Ukraine said. However, some of those that made it through Ukraine's defense hit energy infrastructure facilities, causing blackouts nationwide.

In his nightly address Wednesday, Zelensky said the blackout extended into Moldova. Ukraine's electricity transmission system operator Ukrenergo explained the attacks caused a frequency surge in the integrated power grid, which caused Moldova to lose connection to the power supply, even though Kyiv hasn't supplied it electricity since Oct. 11.

"When the temperature is below zero outside, and tens of millions of people are left without electricity, heat and water as a result of Russian missiles hitting energy facilities, this is an obvious crime against humanity," Zelensky said.

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The package was unveiled after the Pentagon announced $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine on Nov. 10.

Amid the Biden administration, the United States has committed nearly $20 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

"Ukraine will not be scared by cowardly inhumane terrorist attacks of Russian war criminals," Zelensky tweeted Wednesday. "Thank you, [President Joe Biden] and [the American] people for standing with Ukraine and responding with a new PDA package, which would allow us to save lives and continue our fight for Ukraine!

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