Exclusive: US readying new $1 billion Ukrainian arms package

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A view shows an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) being fired at an undisclosed location in Ukraine in this still image obtained from undated social media video uploaded on 24 June 2022 via Pavlo Narozhnyy/via REUTERS/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) – (This August 5 story adds deleted word to paragraph 9.)

The Biden administration’s next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to be $1 billion, one of the largest yet, and include ammunition for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The package is expected to be announced as early as Monday and would add to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24.

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The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said President Joe Biden has yet to sign the next arms package. They warned that weapons packages can change in value and content before they are signed.

However, if signed in its current form, it would be valued at $1 billion and would include munitions for HIMARS, munitions for the NASAMS surface-to-air missile system and up to 50 M113 armored medical transports.

The new package follows a recent decision by the Pentagon to allow Ukrainians to receive medical treatment at a US military hospital in Germany near Ramstein Air Base. Read more

Last Monday, the Pentagon announced a separate security assistance package for Ukraine worth up to $550 million, including additional munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).

The White House declined to comment on the package.

The new package would be funded by the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), in which the president can authorize the transfer of items and services from U.S. inventory without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

The HIMARS are playing a key role in the artillery duel between Ukraine and Russia which has been described as “crushing” with very little movement from the front line in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

Since Russian troops crossed the border in February in what Putin called a “special military operation”, the conflict has turned into a war of attrition fought mainly in the east and south of Ukraine.

Moscow is trying to take control of the largely Russian-speaking Donbass, made up of the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, where pro-Moscow separatists seized territory after the Kremlin annexed Crimea from the south in 2014.

So far, the United States has sent 16 HIMARS to Ukraine and pledged on July 1 to send two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS). Read more

It was unclear whether the NASAMS launchers, jointly manufactured by Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N) and Norway’s Kongsberg (KOG.OL), were already in Ukraine, whether the ammunition was for launchers donated by another country or if they were prepositioned.

The United States had previously committed 200 M113 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine.

Armored personnel carriers equipped with medical equipment could make the fight with Russia easier to survive for Ukrainian troops who could then be sent to Germany for additional medical treatment.

The Kyiv government said in June that 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers were being killed every day.

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Reporting by Idrees Ali and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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