President Joe Biden approved a new package of military aid for Ukraine that totals more than $300 million and includes an array of other weapons and additional munitions. It comes as unmanned aircraft have targeted Moscow and Russia has continued to batter Ukraine’s capital.
U.S. officials say there are no suggestions that U.S.-made munitions and drones were used in the strikes against Moscow, which the Kremlin has blamed on Ukraine, but the country has not acknowledged. The Biden administration has said it made it clear to Ukraine that weapons from the United States should not be used for attacks inside Russian territory.]
“We don’t tell them where to strike. We don’t tell them where not to strike. …Ultimately, President Zelenskyy and his military commanders decide what they’re going to do from a military perspective,” said John Kirby, White House National Security Council spokesman, Wednesday. However, he added that the U.S. has been “very clear with the Ukrainians privately; we’ve certainly been clear publicly that we do not support attacks inside Russia.”
He said Zelenskyy had assured the United States that the Ukrainians respected the U.S.’s concerns.
New aid package boosts Ukraine’s air defense capabilities
The new Ukraine aid package provides munitions to boost air defense capabilities to fend off air assaults on Kyiv by Russia. It provides munitions for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Patriot missile batteries, along with Stinger and Avenger air defense systems, night vision goggles, anti-armor rounds, mine-clearing equipment, about 30 million rounds of small arms ammunition, an undisclosed amount of other artillery rounds, and unguided Zuni aircraft rockets.
Moscow was targeted Tuesday by a rare drone attack that lightly damaged residential buildings. Russian officials criticized the West for not adequately condemning the attack on Russian soil. Throughout the grinding war, the West has sought to keep the conflict from expanding beyond Ukraine.
When asked about Moscow’s criticism that the West quietly supported attacks inside Russia’s territory, Kirby scoffed and said that the Russians are “not going to believe anything I have to say” about the matter.”
Kirby explained that the United States clarified that it will not change its policy about not encouraging or enabling strikes inside Russia but added, “I don’t think we’re going to take it upon ourselves as a burden to privately communicate that to the Russians.”
Officials in Ukraine celebrated Tuesday’s drone attack but avoided claiming responsibility in a response similar to what they have responded to after prior attacks on Russian territory.
U.S. officials didn’t provide details on the drone munitions in the new aid package or specify which unmanned aircraft would use them.
The Defense Department has given Ukraine several unmanned aircraft over the past year for both attacks and surveillance, including at least two versions of the Switchblade. This so-called kamikaze drone can stay in the air and explode into a target.
Including the most recent aid, the United States has committed over $37.6 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on February 24, 2022. The latest aid package will be provided under presidential drawdown authority, allowing the Pentagon to take weapons from its own stocks and rapidly ship them to Ukraine, said officials.