US set to send mobile rocket launchers to Ukraine as part of $625m aid package

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US set to send mobile rocket launchers to Ukraine as part of $625m aid package
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The Biden administration’s next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Launchers (HIMARS), munitions, mines and mine-resistant vehicles, Reuters said on Monday. Reuters two sources briefed on the $625 million program.

The package, expected to be announced as soon as Tuesday, is the first aid package since Russia’s last declared annexation of Ukrainian territory and the second Presidential Authority (PDA) withdrawal since Ukraine made significant gains on the battlefield in mid-September.

Russia’s declared annexations followed what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western and Kyiv governments said the votes violated international law and were coercive and unrepresentative.

Using the withdrawal authority, the four HIMARS launchers and associated rockets, some 200 mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, howitzer ammunition and mines, can be sent to Ukraine in the coming days.

The Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) allows the United States to quickly transfer items and services from inventory without congressional approval in response to an emergency.

It is the first package of the US government’s fiscal year 2023, which currently operates under a bridge funding measure and allows President Joe Biden to take up to $3.7 billion from surplus weapons. to transfer them to Ukraine until mid-December.

Last week, the United States unveiled a $1.1 billion armament package for Ukraine, including 18 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launch systems, accompaniment, various types of counter-drone systems and radar systems.

But last week’s aid package was funded by the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which means the government has to source the weapons from industry, rather than withdraw them from stockpiles. existing American weapons.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the accuracy and longer range of the HIMARS launchers allowed Kyiv to reduce the Russian artillery advantage.

The United States has so far pledged 16 HIMARS launchers to Ukraine using PDAs.

The White House declined to comment on the package.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the weapons package may change in value and content until the last minute.

The announcement would represent more than $16.8 billion in US security aid since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

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