The Biden administration announced an additional $325 million security assistance package for Ukraine on Sept. 21 following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit to the White House.
According to the Department of Defense (DOD), the multi-million dollar package includes antitank weapons, air defense equipment, artillery rounds, and other equipment aimed at meeting Ukraine's critical security and defense needs amid Russia's ongoing invasion.
Specifically, under the package, Ukraine will receive AIM-9M missiles for air defense; additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS); Avenger air defense systems; .50 caliber machine guns to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems; 155mm artillery rounds, including DPICM; 105mm artillery rounds; Tube-Launched, and Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles.
The package also includes Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems; over 3 million rounds of small arms ammunition; 59 light tactical vehicles; demolitions munitions for obstacle clearing; and spare parts, maintenance, and other field equipment.
"This package includes additional capabilities to strengthen Ukraine's air defenses as it faces brutal aerial assaults from Russia, dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) which are helping Ukraine on the battlefield, anti-tank weapons, and other equipment to meet Ukraine's critical needs and to help Ukraine counter Russia's ongoing war of aggression," the DOD said.
The latest security assistance will utilize the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for Ukraine, meaning the Pentagon will take the weapons from existing U.S. stockpiles and quickly transfer them to Ukraine.
It marks the Biden administration's 47th drawdown of equipment from its own stocks to Ukraine since August 2021.
Zelenskyy Meets Congress Amid Funding DebateThursday also marked Mr. Zelenskyy’s sixth in-person meeting with President Joe Biden and his third visit to the White House as he sought to shore up support and secure additional funding for Ukraine amid its counteroffensive against Russia.
Mr. Zelenskyy also met with U.S. Senators during a closed-door meeting Thursday, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) amid an ongoing disagreement between lawmakers on both sides of the aisle regarding Ukraine aid.
According to Mr. Zelenskyy's office, the Ukrainian leader "briefed the senators on the current situation at the front, Ukraine's priority defense needs, and the necessity to boost the capabilities of Ukrainian air defense, especially as winter approaches."
He also "expressed hope that the Congress would continue to adopt important decisions to financially support our country."
The Biden administration asked Congress last month to authorize $24 billion in additional aid for Ukraine as part of a supplemental budget proposal, however, lawmakers have been divided over the funding amid concerns over increased government spending and transparency regarding exactly where the money is going.
Government Shutdown LoomsThe debate over the additional aid comes ahead of a looming government shutdown—government funding expires at midnight on Sept. 30—and Democrats are hoping to pass the funding before then.
Still, the DOD has stressed that its Ukraine operations are exempt from a potential government shutdown and has put in place a contingency plan in case Congress fails to pass legislation to renew funding by the deadline.
As well as meeting with members of Congress, Mr. Zelenskyy also met with defense officials at the Pentagon, according to the DOD.
Following Mr. Zelenskyy's visit to the White House, President Biden condemned Russia's "brutal war of conquest against Ukraine" while praising the courage shown by Ukrainian civilians.
"Ukraine is unbroken, unbowed, and unconquered, proving that nothing can dim the flame of liberty that burns in the heart of free people," President Biden said, adding that "the American people—Democrats and Republicans alike, families all across our nation—understand what Ukraine is fighting to defend, what generations of Americans have also stepped up to protect and preserve. It’s pretty basic: freedom, liberty, and sovereignty."
"That’s why, together with our allies and partners, we will continue to provide security assistance to support Ukraine’s progress in reclaiming its territory," the president said. "And we’ll continue to provide humanitarian aid to help millions of innocents suffering from your—Russia’s aggression."