US announces new military aid, drones for Ukraine

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The US said on Friday for the first time that it will give Ukraine Scan Eagle surveillance drones, mine-resistant vehicles, anti-armor rounds and howitzer weapons to help Ukrainian forces reclaim territory and mount a counter-offensive against Russian invaders.

A senior defense official told reporters that a new $775 million aid package will consist of 15 Scan Eagles, 40 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles known as MRAPs with mine clearance roles, and 2,000 anti-armor rounds that can advance Ukrainian troops. to the south and east, where Russian troops have placed mines. The official said the US wants to help shape and arm the Ukrainian armed forces of the future as the war continues.

“These capabilities have been carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table,” Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said in a statement.

This latest aid comes as the Russian war against Ukraine approaches six months. It brings total US military aid to Ukraine to about $10.6 billion since the beginning of the Biden administration. It marks the 19th time the Pentagon has delivered equipment from Defense Ministry stocks to Ukraine since August 2021.

The US has supplied howitzer ammunition in the past, but this is the first time it will send 16 of the weapon systems. The auxiliary package also includes 1,500 anti-tank missiles, 1,000 spear-throwing missiles, and an undisclosed number of high-velocity, anti-radiation or HARM missiles targeting radar systems. The Ukrainian armed forces have successfully used various precision artillery systems to try to repel Russian forces and reclaim territory that Moscow has conquered.

The defense official informed reporters about the new arms aid on condition of anonymity under the ground rules established by the Ministry of Defense.

For much of the last four months of the war, Russia has focused on conquering the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have controlled a certain area as self-proclaimed republics for eight years.

Russian forces have made some gains in the east, but they have also been on the defensive in other regions as Ukraine ramps up its attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula in Crimea. The Russian-occupied territory was taken by Moscow in 2014. Nine Russian fighter jets were destroyed last week at an airbase in Crimea during attacks that demonstrated the Ukrainians’ ability to strike deep behind enemy lines.

Russian leaders have warned that strike facilities in Crimea spell an escalation in the conflict, fueled by the US and NATO allies and threatening to pull America deeper into the war.

A Western official on Friday said the war is “near operational standstill”, with neither side able to launch major offensives. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military assessments, said the entire pace of the campaign has slowed, in part because both sides recognize that “this is a marathon, not a sprint, and that spending rates and preserving their ammunition are important.” to be.”

But US and Western officials both said Ukraine has been able to launch successful strikes deep behind Russia’s battle lines, eroding logistical support and command and control of Moscow’s troops and damaging their morale.

The US official said that while Ukrainian forces have not been able to recapture much territory, they have been able to significantly weaken Russian positions in a number of places.

Efforts to stop the fighting have also continued. On Thursday, the Turkish leader and the UN chief in western Ukraine met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. They discussed a range of issues, including the prisoner exchange and an attempt to visit UN nuclear energy experts at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

The facility has been controlled by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began on February 24 and has been the target of a number of explosions. Kiev and Moscow accuse each other of shelling the factory, fueling international fears of a catastrophe on the continent.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would succeed Russian President Vladimir Putin as most of the issues discussed require the Kremlin’s approval.

____ Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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