The United States (US) on Wednesday confirmed that it will transfer the advanced Patriot air defence system to Ukraine for the first time as part of a 1.85 billion dollar military aid package that coincided with the arrival of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington.
TOP MEDIA reports that the US Department of State announced the assistance today (Wednesday), hours before Zelenskyy was set to meet with his US counterpart, Joe Biden.
“Today’s assistance for the first time includes the Patriot Air Defense System, capable of bringing down cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles, and aircraft at a significantly higher ceiling than previously provided air defense systems,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The White House had said earlier that Zelenskyy’s visit will highlight Washington’s commitment to support Kyiv for “as long as it takes, including through the provision of economic, humanitarian, and military assistance”.
The US Congress has overwhelmingly approved tens of billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February.
In turn, the Biden administration has been dispensing the aid authorised by lawmakers through periodic assistance packages.
Wednesday’s US aid announcement to Ukraine is one of the largest so far. It brings the total of American assistance to Ukraine since the start of the Biden administration to $21.9bn, according to the Department of State.
Russia launched the invasion of its neighbour in February after a months-long standoff that saw Russian President Vladimir Putin demand an end to NATO expansion into former Soviet republics.
But Moscow’s military campaign has been mired by setbacks. In recent months, Ukrainian forces – backed by US weaponry – recaptured large swaths of territory in a counteroffensive in the east of the country.
Moscow, which has been bombing Ukrainian infrastructure for weeks, has said that Western arms supplies to Kyiv would only exacerbate the conflict.