WASHINGTON (AP) — As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, U.S. security assistance is shifting toward a longer-term campaign that is likely to keep more U.S. military troops in Europe in the future, including pending plans to provide additional aid from about $3 billion to train and equip Ukrainian troops to fight in the coming years, US officials said.
US officials told The Associated Press that the package is expected to be announced on Wednesday, the day the war reaches its six-month mark and Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day. The money will fund contracts for as many as three types of drones and other weapons, ammunition and equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, they said.
The total aid package – which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and is the largest to date – could change slightly overnight, but probably not much. Officials said the money will include money for the small hand-launched Puma drones, the longer-life Scan Eagle surveillance drones, which are launched with a catapult, and, for the first time, Britain’s Vampire drone system, which can be launched from ships.
Several officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid before it was released publicly.
Unlike most previous packages, the new funding is largely intended to help Ukraine secure its medium- to long-term defense position, according to officials familiar with the matter. Previous shipments, most under the presidential Drawdown Authority, have addressed Ukraine’s more immediate needs for weapons and ammunition and involved equipment the Pentagon already has in stock that can be shipped at short notice.
In addition to providing longer-term aid that Ukraine can use for possible future defense needs, the new package aims to reassure Ukrainian officials that the United States intends to continue its support regardless of the day-to-day back and forth of the conflict. , the officials said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted the expanded focus on Tuesday as he reaffirmed the alliance’s support for the conflict-torn country.
“Winter is coming, and it will be difficult, and what we are seeing now is a war of attrition. This is a battle of will and a battle of logistics. That is why we must maintain our long-term support for Ukraine so that Ukraine gains the upper hand as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said, speaking at a virtual conference on Crimea hosted by Ukraine.
Six months after Russia invaded, the war has slowed to a rut as both sides trade strikes and small claims to the east and south. Thousands of soldiers have been killed and wounded on both sides, just as the Russian bombing of cities has killed countless innocent civilians.
There are fears that Russia will intensify attacks on civilian infrastructure and government facilities in Ukraine in the coming days over the independence holiday and the six-month anniversary of the invasion.
Late Monday, the US Embassy in Ukraine and the State Department issued a new security warning for Ukraine, urging Americans in the country to leave amid the danger.
“Given Russia’s track record in Ukraine, we are concerned about the continued threat Russian attacks pose to civilians and civilian infrastructure,” it said.
Other NATO allies are also marking Independence Day with new aid announcements.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country is providing more than €500 million (nearly $500 million) in aid, including powerful anti-aircraft systems. The aid also includes rocket launchers, ammunition, anti-drone equipment, a dozen armored recovery vehicles and three additional IRIS-T long-range air defense systems, Germany’s dpa news agency reported.
The funding has yet to be approved by parliament and some of it won’t be delivered until next year.
And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $3.85 million through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program for two projects in Ukraine. It includes about $2.9 million in funding for the continued development of the Ukrainian National Police and other emergency services, and about $950,000 to help advise the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
To date, the US has provided approximately $10.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, including 19 packages of weapons taken directly from Defense Department stockpiles since August 2021.
US defense leaders are also looking at plans to expand training for Ukrainian troops outside their country, and for armies on the eastern and southern flanks of Europe that feel most threatened by Russian aggression.
Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.