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The US will send $3.75 billion in military aid to its neighbors Ukraine


WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will send $3.75 billion in military weapons and other aid to Ukraine and its neighbors on NATO’s eastern flank, The White House announced Friday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grind on.

The latest tranche of aid will include for the first time Bradley Armored Vehicles for Ukraine. The armored personnel carrier is used to transport troops into combat and is known as a “tank killer” because of the anti-tank missiles it can fire.

The largest US aid package to date for Kyiv includes $2.85 billion absorption of Pentagon supplies to be sent directly to Ukraine, and $225 million in foreign military funding to build long-term capacity and support the modernization of the Ukrainian military, according to the White House. It also includes $682 million in foreign military funding for European allies to help repay military equipment donations they made to Ukraine.

“The war is at a critical point and we must do everything we can to help Ukrainians resist Russian aggression,” White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said in announcing the aid.

Direct aid to Ukraine includes 50 Bradleys, as well as 500 anti-tank missiles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for the carriers. The U.S. is also sending 100 M113 armored personnel carriers, 55 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPS, and 138 Humvees, as well as ammunition for highly mobile artillery and air defense systems and other weapons and thousands of artillery rounds, according to the Pentagon.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the Bradleys would be particularly useful to Ukraine in the ongoing heavy fighting in largely rural eastern Ukraine.

“It has a lot to do with the warfare we’re seeing on the ground right now and what we expect we’re going to see in the winter months,” Kirby said.

Critics have complained that the US has been too slow to secure key weapons like Bradleys and battle tanks like Abrams, saying they could have helped the fight last year.

At the Pentagon, Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary for Russia and Ukraine, said the timing was right to make Bradley available. “The Ukrainians have demonstrated a great growing skill in maintenance and support,” she said.

She added that the US-led training, which will begin later this month, will allow troops to operate, maintain and repair the weapons, and that providing tanks, such as the Pentagon’s more sophisticated, heavily armored M1 Abrams tank, will require more support and other training.

The new US package was detailed by the White House and the Pentagon as Germany announced it will deliver about 40 Marder armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in the first quarter of this year.

Germany announced his intention to send the Marder APC after a phone call between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Joe Biden in Thursday.

“These 40 vehicles should be ready already in the first quarter so that they can be handed over to Ukraine,” Scholz’s spokesman, Steffen Hebstreit, told reporters in Berlin. Germany plans to train Ukrainian forces to use the vehicles, and Hebstreit said experts expect that process to take about eight weeks.

Germany has already provided significant military assistance, including howitzers, Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns and the IRIS-T surface-to-air missile system, with three more to follow this year.

Scholz has long feared pressure to supply the Marder and other, heavier Western vehicles such as tanks, insisting that Germany would not be able to handle such supplies alone. Officials noted that other countries have not supplied any. But this week, France, United States and Germany have announced plans to send comparable armored vehicles that fall short of tanks.

Last year, Germany supported agreements in which NATO’s eastern allies sent familiar Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine, with Germany in turn supplying those countries with more modern Western equipment.

Hebstreit said there had been talks with the US and others since mid-December about how to support Ukraine going forward. He said the ability to supply Soviet-made equipment was “slowly coming to an end” as the situation in Ukraine changes with massive Russian strikes on infrastructure and fighting that could increase as the weather warms.

Ukraine and a number of German MPs in and outside of Scholz’s ruling coalition have also called on Germany to supply Leopard 2 main battle tanks. Supporters of the Leopard delivery were cheered by the Marder APC move and vowed to keep pushing for it.

But Hebstreit said battle tanks were not an issue in the conversation between Scholz and Biden on Thursday. He said Germany would stick to its principles of supporting Ukraine as strongly as possible, while not dealing with arms supplies alone and ensuring that NATO did not become a party to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Germany also said Thursday it would follow the U.S. in supplying a Patriot air defense missile battery to Ukraine. That was at the request of the U.S. and is also expected in the first quarter, Hebstreit said.

It comes in addition to the Patriot systems that Germany has sent or plans to send to Slovakia and Poland.

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Associated Press reporters Seung Min Kim and Aamer Madhani contributed reporting.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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