Pentagon to provide medium-range air defense systems to Ukraine

·1 min read
FILE: National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems / Credit: U.S. Defense Department
FILE: National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems / Credit: U.S. Defense Department

The Pentagon will provide two medium-range air defense systems to Ukraine, but the contracting process may take weeks or months, a senior defense official said Friday.

The latest round of assistance to Ukraine, totaling $820 million, provides aid through a drawdown of current Defense Department stocks, as well as through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative Fund (USAI), which contracts weapons that the Pentagon will then send to Ukraine.

Two National Advanced Surface to Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) are included in the USAI package. The NASAMS are medium-range air defense systems capable of shooting down cruise missiles and aircraft and are also deployed around Washington, D.C., to defend the nation's capital.

The announcement came as the fight in the Donbas wears on. The Russians have recently inched forward. They now hold Severodonetsk and are fighting for Lysychansk, but the official said Friday that Russia is "paying such a high price for tiny bits of gains" in terms of territory.

The official said the Ukrainians have been able to use the first set of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) effectively against Russian command posts, and Friday's aid package includes $50 million more in ammunition from Defense Department stocks for the systems.

In total, the U.S. has provided more than $6.9 billion in aid to Ukraine since Russia initiated its invasion in February.

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