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Russia Ukraine conflict

US pledges $400 mln in new weapons for Ukraine, including more HIMARS

“What we see now, as the United States surged HIMARS and the missiles for those systems, is that Ukraine has now been successfully striking Russian locations in Ukraine, deeper behind the front lines and disrupting Russia’s ability to conduct that artillery operation,” a senior Pentagon official.

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The US is announcing another $400 million in weapons assistance to Ukraine, a senior Pentagon official said Friday, noting that Ukrainian forces are now striking Russian targets “deeper behind the frontlines” due to US-provided arms.

Friday’s announcement will be another “Presidential Drawdown Authority,” which allows the US president to authorize the transfer of weapons from US stocks without seeking approval from Congress.

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The latest package is set to include four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), bringing the total number pledged to Ukraine to 12. Eight have been delivered, according to the senior US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official said that Russia had not destroyed any of these systems, days after Moscow claimed it hit two of the US-supplied HIMARS.

“What we see now, as the United States surged HIMARS and the missiles for those systems, is that Ukraine has now been successfully striking Russian locations in Ukraine, deeper behind the front lines and disrupting Russia’s ability to conduct that artillery operation,” the defense official said.

More ammunition for the HIMARS will also be sent over as part of Friday’s aid announcement. “This capability… [is] especially important and effective in assisting Ukraine in coping with the Russian artillery battle in the Donbas,” the official said.

Other aid that will be sent will include three tactical vehicles to recover equipment, 1,000 rounds of 155-mm artillery ammunition, demolition munitions, counter-battery systems and spare parts.

The official said that the 155-mm artillery has “greater precision” and will allow Ukraine to save ammunition since these new rounds are more precise. “So, it’s a further evolution of our support for Ukraine in this battle in the Donbas.”

But the official was quick to point out the “spare parts and other equipment” pledged. “Because it’s not just the new weapons systems, but it’s the ability of Ukraine to repair, maintain and sustain the effectiveness of the systems that we, and allies and partners, have been providing over the last few months,” the official said.

Russia “way behind” schedule

As for the battle itself, the Pentagon assesses that Russia is “way behind” on achieving its objectives in Ukraine.

Initially, intelligence assessments from the West thought that Vladimir Putin’s forces would be able to enter the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and take over within a few weeks, if not days.

After failing to do that, Russia turned its attention to eastern Ukraine, specifically the Donbas. Even there, the Russians are “making very, very incremental, limited hard-fought highly costly progress,” according to the senior defense official.

“They’re way behind on their timelines; they’re far behind on their objectives,” the official added.

Ukrainian forces, on the flip side, are carrying out effective counter-offenses. And over the last week, due to the HIMARS, the Ukrainians have been able to “significantly” disrupt Russia’s ability to move forward. “So, we don’t see this at all as Russia winning this battle. Certainly, they’re not winning it related to their initial objectives,” the US defense official said.

Nevertheless, the official suggested this would be a fight that would continue to drag out. “The fighting is hard, and the Ukrainians are having to fight hard to prevent the Russians from achieving their objectives.”

The official added: “[The Ukrainians] are doing so effectively, and we’re seeing that in the slowness of the Russian advances.”

Read more: Top Republican senator after secret visit to Kyiv: ‘Ukraine must win this fight’

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