WASHINGTON — The United States on Thursday unveiled nearly $3 billion in new aid to Ukraine and 18 of its neighbors as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with allies in Germany and Secretary of State Antony Blinken was making an unscheduled visit to Kyiv.
Along with a $675 million package of heavy weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles for Ukraine, the administration informed Congress of its intention to make available $2.2 billion in new foreign military funding . Recipients include NATO members and Eastern European security partners whom the State Department has called “most potentially at risk for future Russian aggression.”
The prospect of funding options for US weapons raises the stakes in a long-running sell-out campaign by Washington to be on the front lines as former Warsaw Pact countries empty the last stocks of Soviet equipment from their arsenals . Recent donations from these countries to Ukraine have made the need to replenish their stocks all the more urgent.
It also sets up competition, at least implicitly, with arms manufacturers in Europe, who are vying for the business, as well as with the European Union as a bloc, where officials are scrambling to accelerate the joint purchase of weapons and ammunition.
At the start of a meeting Thursday with senior officials from allied nations at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Austin announced that in the coming weeks the US would host “senior armaments directors” from the countries. members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. “They will discuss how our defense industrial bases can best equip Ukraine’s future forces with the capabilities they need.”
“Many countries continue to dig deep and supply equipment from their own military stocks. This may mean buying new equipment from their own defense industries, or even buying new equipment from other countries that they can send to Ukraine,” Austin said during the meeting, which was attended by the Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Minister of Defense as well as officials from allied countries.
Austin said countries working together should be able to “streamline processes”, shorten acquisition times and share best practices. The remarks come as Austin has launched an effort within the Pentagon to speed up the process of selling military hardware overseas.
Foreign military funding typically allows recipients to purchase U.S.-made defense equipment, and the State Department, which administers the FMF, told the aid on Thursday that it is supposed to help countries meet the weapons and equipment they sent to Ukraine.
Given the urgency of Ukraine’s struggle to repel the Russian invasion, the loans can also be used on a short-term basis to finance the types of Soviet-era weapons, parts and ammunition common to the ‘Eastern Europe. The State Department envisions Ukraine using the money after the war to rebuild its military training capacity.
“In the immediate term, the FMF will be used to meet the wartime needs of the AFU to provide it with the means necessary to win the war against the Russian Federation,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said. State, using an acronym for Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Of the loans, $1 billion will be made available to Ukraine. The rest will be split between 18 other countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The loans “could support” the purchase of a wide range of equipment, ranging from high-end integrated air and missile defense systems and fixed-wing aircraft like the F-16 to small arms and ammunition, the official said. state department.
And recipients can use the loans for a wide range of reasons: to “deter and defend against emerging threats to their sovereignty and territorial integrity, increase the professionalization and modernization of their security forces, improve military integration partners with NATO and strengthen cyber, hybrid defensive systems”. warfare and conventional capabilities to counter Russian influence and aggression,” the State Department said.
Although Congress must approve the proposal, it has already appropriated the money through May’s $40 billion Ukraine aid package and the State Department’s permanent fund to counter the Russian influence.
The $675 million US military equipment package to be drawn from US military stocks includes more high-velocity anti-radiation missiles, intended to focus on Russian artillery, as well as ammunition for anti-radiation systems. High Mobility Artillery Rockets, or HIMARS, sent to Ukraine. .
This package also includes 105mm howitzers, 36,000 artillery shells, 100 Humvees, armored ambulances, anti-tank systems and more.
Austin said the group came together to renew their long-term commitment to military support.
“We will work together to help integrate Ukraine’s capabilities and strengthen its long-term joint operations,” Austin said at the meeting. “We will work together to modernize our defense industrial bases to meet Ukraine’s long-term needs. And we will work together for production and innovation to meet Ukraine’s long-term self-defense needs.
Austin said “the war is at another key moment” as Ukrainian forces begin their counteroffensive in the south of the country.
“We are now seeing the demonstrable success of our joint efforts on the battlefield,” he added. “The face of war is changing, and so is the mission of this contact group,”
The United States has committed $14.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.
Joe Gould is the Pentagon’s senior reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He was previously a congressional reporter.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, as well as US-European cooperation and multinational investments in defense and global security. Previously, he was editor of Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.