The U.S. will send $400 million more in military aid to Ukraine, several U.S. officials said Thursday, amid concerns that financial assistance for the war against Russia could decline a bit if Republicans take control of Congress.
An announcement is expected Thursday, as the vote counting from Tuesday’s election continues, with Republicans inching closer to a narrow House majority and with control of the Senate hinging on tight races in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.
According to officials, the aid package will contain large amounts of ammunition and, for the first time, highly mobile Avenger Air Defense Systems. Officials said there will be ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, which Ukraine has been successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia. There also will be mortars and missiles for the Hawk surface-to-air anti-aircraft system.
At the White House, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the new aid package would include important air defense contributions.
“This increased air defense will be critical for Ukraine as Russia continues to use cruise missiles and Iranian-made drones to attack critical civilian infrastructure,” Sullivan said. He did not discuss the funding total, but noted it would include Stinger missiles for the Avenger system.
The additional ammunition and air defense capabilities come as Russian troops began pulling out of the key Ukrainian city of Kherson, in a widening retreat that could mark a turning point in the war. Kherson is the only provincial capital that Moscow captured, and the Russian withdrawal could allow Ukraine to win back territory in the south that it had lost. Ukrainian officials acknowledged that Moscow’s forces had no choice but to flee Kherson but remained cautious, fearing an ambush.
Including the latest aid, the U.S. has committed more than $18.6 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on Feb. 24. The new package of aid will be done under presidential drawdown authority, which allows the Pentagon to take weapons from its own stock and quickly ship them to Ukraine, officials said.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of a package not yet made public.
When asked about ongoing aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, President Joe Biden expressed optimism that it will go on, even if Republicans take control of one or both houses of Congress.
“I hope we’ll continue this bipartisan approach of confronting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” the Democratic president told reporters.
Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani and AP broadcast reporter Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.